Support and backing from community will help keep community transport charity afloat
PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 January 2018
A Weston-super-Mare charity which helps vulnerable and less-able people get around is in desperate need of more money and volunteers to continue its service.
Weston and District Community Transport (WDCT) provides transport to the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged residents of Weston, giving them the independence and freedom to enjoy all the town has to offer – in many cases, proving the only way these people can get around the town.
The not-for-profit organisation is reliant on its support from North Somerset Council and donations in order to offer its services to clients.
WDCT, which has made it to the final of the Weston Business Awards for the Making A Difference category, merged with another charity, Dial-a-Ride, in 2004 under the watchful eye of Vic Ryland.
Manager Paul Amey said: “2018 will be our 14th year under the current format, with Vic and his wife Joan, along with other trustees, giving up their time voluntarily to ensure this important and essential service in Weston has continued to operate effectively.”
However, if the charity’s vital work is to continue, more volunteer drivers and donations are needed.
Mr Amey said: “Without our drivers the organisation could not operate. A good number have been with the organisation for a number of years and are completely committed and extremely passionate about what they do, identifying WDCT as an essential and unique service to the community.”
The charity is made up of a small number of full-time and part-time employees but mainly runs on the work of the volunteers.
The Dial-a-Ride charity still operates under the WDCT banner, offering passengers a door-to-door service for medical appointments, shopping trips and family visits.
Passengers pay an annual membership fee of £12 and then £4 per journey.
On average, its drivers carry out six routes a day and 800 Dial-a-Ride journeys a month, with more than 400 people using it.
Mr Amey said: “Although we charge a membership and transportation, the service is not commercially viable as it is exceptionally expensive to run.
“The service is unique and completely necessary but could not be maintained without essential funding, hence our charity status and the need for continual and increased funding.”
The charity also offers day trips to Cheddar, Cadbury Garden Centre, Minehead, Exmouth and Longleat and Cotswold Wildlife Park.
It is not limited to the older generation either; WDCT provides transport to schools and nursing homes which do not have access to a minibus, or has teachers who have passed the required driving course, the Mini-Bus Driver Awareness Scheme.
This additional amenity was set up by Vic and Joan in 2013 as a way for their passengers to get to medical appointments in Taunton and Bristol without paying expensive taxi fares.
Mr Amey said: “Weston Wheels is a wholly volunteer-based organisation operating every weekday.
“An increasing number of appointments are now arranged outside of Weston and many elderly passengers need transport, it is not viable to use a minibus for a one-to-one so this overcame the need with car-based transport.”
Fourteen volunteer drivers give up their time to take people to and from their appointments – charging 45p a mile. The drivers carry out an average of 75 journeys a month.
More drivers are desperately needed to help the charity cope with rising demand, and donations are vital to its future. To become a WDCT driver, contact 01934 611956.