Volunteers needed for town's crucial community car scheme

Dereham Community Car Scheme volunteer Richard Meredith

Dereham Community Car Scheme volunteer Richard Meredith - Credit: Dereham Town Council

A popular and long-running community car scheme is in urgent need of more volunteer drivers.

Dereham Community Car Scheme provides a valuable service to vulnerable people in Dereham and Toftwood who need to attend medical appointments, but have no access to transport of their own and are unable to use public transport.

The initiative - managed by Janet Newell of Dereham Town Council - currently has six drivers, all of whom use their own cars and receive a mileage allowance.

Dereham Town Council's offices, located on the town's Market Place.

The Dereham Community Car Scheme is run by Dereham Town Council - Credit: Noah Vickers

But ahead of the colder winter months, there is recognition that capacity must be expanded. 

Dereham Town Council officer Gina Snow explained: "Our scheme provides more than 100 journeys a month for people who live in Dereham and Toftwood who aren’t able to get to health appointments.

"Most journeys are local, but our drivers will travel to hospital appointments as far as Addenbrookes and Papworth, and wait until their passenger has finished their appointment.

“We’d like to assure anyone thinking about volunteering that journey requests depend on the driver’s availability, so there’s no pressure to commit to more time than is convenient."

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Among those to endorse the need for more helpers to come forward is Richard Meredith, who has been driving for nine years.

"I have found the experience to be most rewarding, with the knowledge I am making a worthwhile contribution to our community," he said.

"The majority of people using our scheme are elderly and therefore classified as potentially vulnerable. 

"We offer a door-to-door service, and I know this feeling of not having to be alone for such appointments gives them much reassurance and peace of mind.

"I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been told 'I don’t know what we’d do without you.'"

Jonathan Poll, a volunteer driver with Dereham Community Car Scheme

Jonathan Poll, a volunteer driver with Dereham Community Car Scheme - Credit: Dereham Town Council

Fellow volunteer Jonathan Poll added: "I find it very rewarding to be able to help people who otherwise would find it very difficult to get to appointments.

"It’s nice when we take people to their appointments and start chatting, and eventually you become friends. Sometimes we are the only people they see.

"Anyone thinking about volunteering should go for it. You won’t be disappointed."

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Gina Snow on 01362 693821 or email generalenquiries@derehamtowncouncil.org.