Norwich sharing pioneer Liftshare marks 18 years as it looks to the future

Liftshare celebrating its 18th birthday. Founder Ali Clabburn (centre) with staff.Picture: James Bas

Liftshare celebrating its 18th birthday. Founder Ali Clabburn (centre) with staff.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A pioneer of the sharing economy is looking to branch out as it hopes to help tackle rural isolation while expanding its customer base.

Liftshare, which has its headquarters on Duke Street, Norwich, is aiming to increase the number of drivers who use its service as well as tapping in to the elderly community.

The business, which puts drivers in touch with passengers wishing to travel in the same direction, is responsible for around a million trips a month.

Founder Ali Clabburn, who launched the company after struggling to get a lift from Bristol to Norfolk one Christmas, said: 'One per cent of all drivers in the UK is a Liftshare driver and I think we can get that up to 20%.

'There is still a huge number of people for whom Liftshare would be a massive benefit.'

While there are a number of community transport schemes across the county aimed at helping those without cars get around, Mr Clabburn believes a more joined-up approach could help more people.

He said: 'It all comes down to need and demand. We need more sharing because we are forever running out of things like space, energy and time and sharing economies have a part to play in stopping this.

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'I would love to see some of the ideas from sharing economies being used in the volunteering sector.

'There are brilliant people working in the community transport sector but they are using very out-of-date marketing data and so on.

'It is about collaboration – it would be pointless to have two vehicles travelling behind each other on the same route.

'I would like to help people. Solving travel poverty and access in Norfolk and particularly north Norfolk is something I am keen on.'

Liftshare is accessed through its app and website and now has 800 corporate clients including giants such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Porsche and Jaguar Land Rover.

The social enterprise celebrated its 18th birthday yesterday and Mr Clabburn, the managing director, said he was proud of what the company had achieved since he created it.

'If I look back I am massively proud of what we have achieved,' he said. 'We have helped sharing economies develop, we have done our bit for changing work spaces in Norwich – we were the first to have a slide in the office – and we have achieved a huge amount.

'It is an opportunity to step back and be grateful and thankful for all the people that have helped us along the way.'

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