A community transport scheme, providing vital links for elderly and disabled Dales residents to the ‘necessities of life,’ is aiming to expand.
The Nidderdale Plus Partnership’s community car scheme launched four years ago, and has helped ensure residents without access to public or private transport, can travel across the district.
Thanks to the hard-work of volunteer drivers, and a car provided through North Yorkshire County Council, there are now 60 regular users who can travel for services including doctor’s appointments, but also meet everyday needs such as doing their regular shop.
Now it’s hoped that a second car, accessible for residents in wheelchairs and with mobility difficulties, could be secured through North Yorkshire County Council.
Helen Flynn, Executive Chair she said: “North Yorkshire County Council have been brilliant, and we are extremely grateful for the car but we just don’t have the capacity, and people using this need transport to access the necessities of life - whether that is regular doctors appointments, getting to hospital, and getting out to do their shopping.”
The importance of the scheme is all the more apparent following the publication of the Nidderdale Quality of Life Survey, says Mrs Flynn, who flagged that transport 'was the biggest problem' among those who responded.
It's hoped that along with covering a wider area the additional car will also enable the organisation to continue helping address social isolation.
Mrs Flynn said: "Since we have had the donation of a community car, the scheme has gone from strength to strength, it's used all the time. But we are aware that the issue for many people is that they are essentially trapped in their homes, because they don't have access to any transport."
Marie-Ann Jackson, Head of NYCC’S Stronger Communities Programme, said it had recently supported the first steps of this move, and was open to an application for grant funding.
She said: “The County Council has been working with Nidderdale Plus for a number of years on a range of services, including the establishment of the community library and their innovative and successful community car scheme.
"We have recently supported them with the development of a business plan, which includes the ambition to expand the car scheme. This work is ongoing and the Stronger Communities team continues to work with Nidderdale Plus to realise their ambitions.”
She added: "The County Council is open to applications for capital and small grants from its community transport budget and would consider any application submitted by Nidderdale Plus."