December 22 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Isolated and elderly people in two north Norfolk towns will be able to have better access to transport and medical treatment thanks to a Lottery grant.
The North Norfolk Community Transport (NNCT) charity, based in North Walsham, will be able to expand its services to Cromer and Sheringham after receiving just over £168,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.
It will allow the MediRide service, which takes people to surgery, dentist and hospital appointments through volunteer drivers, to increase.
The cash will also pay for an extra minibus for the Dial-a-Bus service which picks up people in areas where there is no public transport.
Eileen Oliver, chief officer of NNCT, said: “I’m a bit stunned but thrilled.”
The charity, set up in 1999, currently runs both services in the North Walsham, Stalham, Holt, Melton Constable and Mundesley areas and last year 17,256 journeys were made.
It currently has six minibuses which hold 14 people and can be called between Monday and Friday. There are 40 volunteer MediRide drivers and an average of 85 people are taken to medical appointments each month.
Ms Oliver said: “Rural bus services have been reduced over the years and that is going to become more of an issue. Norfolk County Council wants the community transport charities to take in more of the bus services.
“The people who use the Dial-a-Bus service don’t have any other service and it makes it impossible for them to get to the shops, banks or libraries. It is the only way they get out and meet people.”
She added it was becoming more difficult for patients to get hospital transport and taxis were expensive.
The service is mainly used by elderly people but it is for anyone - Ms Oliver wants to encourage more young people to use it.
“Running a car is very expensive and anything that can help young people with that cost is good,” she added.
The Lottery money will be made available over the next three years and the MediRide service will expand when volunteers from Cromer and Sheringham come forward.
It is hoped the new minibus will be running by March next year.
If you would like to volunteer call 01263 839009.