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Transport volunteer making a difference Posted on Tuesday, 29 August 2023

At the end of April, when I took over the role as Manager for the VASL Car Scheme, we got a phone call from Phil, a retired prison officer. He was due to start 7 weeks of radiotherapy at Northampton General Hospital, he doesn’t drive, so needed our help to get there.

Fast forward to last Wednesday and Phil is ringing the bell at the end of his 37th treatment. Beside him is Lynne, one of volunteer drivers. Between Lynne and another volunteer driver, they have picked Phil up from his home, driven him to hospital, waited whilst he had the treatment and then taken him back home again, 5 times a week for the last 7 weeks.

I have been privileged to have travelled with them a couple of times, a fly on the wall in the back of the car. Lynne lets Phil choose the CDs they listen to; they are both into their musicals, they listen and chat about the songs, artists and reminisce. As we near Northampton, they both point out a guy sitting on a wall with a clip board, he’s there most days they tell me, but what’s he doing we all wonder? On the way back home, they chuckle as we pass some traffic cones blocking a lane in the road. They have been there for weeks; no work is being carried out and they have never seen any workmen there. They think they have been left behind and forgotten and will probably block the lane forever! Phil checks the scores for the cricket on his phone and gives Lynne running commentary. They chat about what they are having for tea and what they are up to that evening.

Chatting to Lynne, he says “VASL is his life.”  He retired in 2008 and sadly the following year his wife passed away. He needed to do something with his days but did not want the commitment of a regular job, he loves driving and being a volunteer driver fits in around his other pastimes.

VASL Car Scheme is for people who are elderly, disabled, rurally isolated or have no transport of their own or have difficulty accessing public transport and live in Harborough district – East of Husbands Bosworth. It’s a lifeline to our clients, but it’s also so rewarding and fulfilling for our volunteer drivers. We are registering new clients every single day and are desperate for new drivers to enable us to keep up with the demand. Our drivers use their own cars and are re-imbursed their expenses, and they can offer as much or as little time as they like, there’s no pressure to commit.

If you would like to make a difference and want more information on becoming a volunteer driver, please contact us on 01858 468499 or email transport@vasl.org.uk

Lisa Jones

VASL Community Transport Manager