A Scottish social enterprise is calling on drivers to help reduce isolation in their local communities by signing up to help out local car schemes.
These initiatives offer a lifeline to people who find it difficult to access health services, social activities and more because of a lack of suitable transport.
During Volunteers Week, which runs from 1-7 June, Helping Go is urging drivers to come forward to offer their services.
Reduced transport services, an ageing population and lack of funds linked to ongoing public sector funding constraints are all contributing to a growing demand for volunteer car schemes.
Although many schemes were traditionally targeted at older people, there is now a wide range of service user groups who also rely on them, including those with physical or learning disabilities and those experiencing mental ill health. And while volunteer drivers are often needed to enable people to get to medical appointments, they can also help with access to social activities and shopping.
Julian Blake is the Founder and Director of Helping Go. He is also a volunteer driver with North Berwick Volunteer Car Scheme in East Lothian. The social enterprise grew out of his experience as a volunteer driver, witnessing first-hand the benefits such projects can bring and also the challenges that they face.
He explained: "These services rely on volunteer drivers to reduce social isolation in the community. Many of them just don’t have enough drivers to meet the demand. In addition, many of the volunteers are getting older and won’t always be able to continue to help out. So, we are also urging young drivers to consider giving up some of their time to get involved."
Helping Go was established in North Berwick last year to support and promote volunteer car schemes.
Julian and Manager Lynne-Marie Thom are also keen to help communities to establish a service in areas where none exists.
Both are passionate about raising the profile of volunteer car schemes.
"They can promote inclusion in communities across Scotland, and act as a lifeline to many people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get out and about and enjoy local activities," added Lynne-Marie.
Helping Go has produced a map on its website to enable those needing a lift and potential volunteers to find a car scheme in their local area. They are also offering free car stickers to volunteer drivers, which helps to build general awareness of these vital schemes and their volunteers whilst they are out and about in their communities.
To find a scheme near you view the Helping Go map of Scotland on their website www.helpinggo.org/volunteer-car-schemes/find-a-scheme-map
Helping Go is a Social Enterprise supporting Volunteer Car Schemes.