Residents of Craven who are struggling with mobility issues because of temporary or permanent disability, or simply because of where they live, will soon be able to access a brand new community car scheme which connects volunteer drivers with passengers needing a ride.
Freedom Wheels is a service designed to fill a gap in public transport provision with a social car scheme, following a model successfully run in other areas across the UK for more than 20 years.
Administered for North Yorkshire County Council by SCAD (Skipton & Craven Action for Disability), the new scheme will enable volunteers to use their own cars in order to help others to get about for medical appointments, shopping and social activities.
The not-for-profit service supports the local community with volunteer drivers giving their time for free, so the charge for users is simply 45p per mile to cover petrol costs plus £1 booking fee for Freedom Wheels’ administration of the scheme.
Volunteer Drivers Needed!
Volunteer drivers are reimbursed the set mileage expenses of 45p per mile for the whole journey, from their own home to the client, to the end destination and return to their door. They must use their own car and have a clean driving license. Freedom Wheels’ public liability insurance covers the volunteer driver and passenger and driving for the scheme should not result in any change to the volunteer’s insurance premium because the driver is not being hired with payment.
The service is open to users in the Craven area, with Freedom Wheels working to match a passenger with a volunteer who lives close by. Journeys must be booked with at least 24 hours’ notice, ideally longer.
The team has been providing transport services for 35 years and has been instrumental in gaining grant funding to launch the scheme. Administrator, Stephanie Wheelhouse, is now calling for volunteers to come forward to literally get the wheels rolling on the new initiative, explaining:
“It’s a chance for volunteers to make a massive difference to people’s lives. Funding cutbacks mean that public transport in Craven no longer services everyone. For those with disability, reduced mobility or who live in villages and hamlets where the buses don’t service regularly, there may be no other option but the Freedom Wheels car scheme. By giving your time and the comfort of your car, you will be helping us reduce the isolation that these people face, helping them to get out and about to improve their quality of life.”
More about Freedom Wheels can be found online at http://www.freedomwheelsskipton.org.uk/ .
Those interested in volunteer driving or using the service to get out and about can call 0330 041 4578 to speak to Stephanie, or call in to the SCAD office at 46-48 Newmarket Street in Skipton for a leaflet.