Research by older people’s charity WRVS has revealed a “cruel transport trap” that condemns a third of people over 65, and half of those over 80, to life without the lift they need to do basic things like go shopping or get to hospital.
Launching the charity’s ‘Give us a Lift’ campaign website and video – which go live on Tuesday 17 November and aim to recruit more volunteers and raise funds for community transport services - Andrew Jackson of WRVS in Scotland, said:
“Free bus passes are great but they’re useless if there’s not a bus to catch, which is often the case on routes the private sector has abandoned. This cruel transport trap means that in some remote and rural communities you’re more likely to see Brigadoon than a regular bus. Only community transport is in a position to pull over while others pass by. We hope the public will support us but we’re also calling on Scottish Government to look again at how free bus travel for older people might best include community transport, particularly when budget squeezes mean some local authorities are already eyeing up these services’ necks as soft targets for the axe.”
Frances Webb, 68, of Innerleithen in Peebleshire, is just one of the many older Scots who were stuck for a lift until WRVS volunteers pulled over: “It’s difficult to put into words what the service means to me. It’s knowing that there’s somebody there and somebody cares, that someone out there knows you are alive and will help you if they can.”
Mr Jackson added; “90% of older people who use a WRVS community transport service say it reduces their isolation, 75% that it brings independence and makes their life better and over 50% that it improves their health. It’s obvious that the future of older people’s care needs to account for community transport. We know money’s tight all over but if the Scottish Government is serious about positive outcomes for older Scots it needs to make sure they can get the life-changing services they need when they need them, and not leave it until it’s too late to matter.”
Notes to Editors
- www.giveusalift.org.uk goes live on Tuesday 17 November 2009
- The video will be available then at www.giveusalift.org.uk/video.aspx
- As well as Frances Webb, WRVS has other strong case studies available for media use
- Between them, in the last eighteen months, WRVS’s community transport and good neighbours schemes in Scotland, saw 1,200 volunteers spend 53,000 hours (equivalent to 23 years work for one person on a 35 hour week) assisting 3,000 people with over 91,000 different tasks on 43,500 separate occasions, of which 43,000 required a journey by a community bus or car
- WRVS needs just 150 more volunteers to meet current demand in Scotland but we’ll need many more as we grow our services. At the moment we are most in need of volunteers in Borders, Fife, Renfrewshire, Perth & Kinross, Aberdeenshire and South Lanarkshire but we have opportunities in other areas too. To volunteer call: 0845 601 4670. To donate call: 0845 607 6524
- The full research report undertaken for WRVS by the consultants nfp Synergy is available, as is a shorter ‘highlights’ sheet
- The statistics about WRVS community transport users come from independent research conducted for WRVS by the consultants Public Aspect to assess the social impact WRVS volunteers have in local communities, available at www.wrvs.org.uk/inside.aspx?page_id=414
- WRVS has 10,500 volunteers in Scotland of a UK total of 53,000 volunteers (20%). WRVS in Scotland has over 300 community-based projects including meals on wheels services, good neighbour befriending schemes and community transport initiatives, over 200 emergency services teams involving more than 2300 people and over 70 established hospital operations supporting visitors, patients and staff.
- WRVS is a charity that wants every older person to have the opportunity and choice to get more out of life. We enable older people to do so by publicising and addressing the issues that affect older people and delivering practical support through the power of volunteering so that they can stay independent, healthy, active and connected in their communities. We are registered as a charity in Scotland (SC 038924) and in England and Wales (1015988) as well as being a limited company registered at Companies House (2520413).