Village Car Scheme is a ‘God Send’
The Ludham Village Car Scheme (LVCS), suggested by a previous incumbent, is now in its 8th year.
The objectives are set out in a brief set of rules as ‘to provide a transport service for villagers of Ludham, of any age, who are without transport and who are unable to use public transport, so that they may attend medical or medical-related appointments.’ The scheme also provides for the collection and delivery of doctor’s prescriptions. Management is by a small committee chosen from the Parochial Church Council of St Catherine’s Church, Ludham and the Church Council of High Street Methodist Church, Ludham. The members of the committee are the Trustees of the Scheme. This committee produced the Scheme Rules, a volunteer’s handbook and a small number of forms. It decided at the outset that the Scheme would be a subsidised service. Drivers are eligible for recompense for the use of their vehicles at the HMRC authorised rate of 45p/mile.
Users of the Scheme are charged £1 for the collection of a prescription, £2 for journeys within 5 miles and £5 for journeys within a 10-mile radius of Ludham. Hospital trips cost £10. The latter compares very favourably with the cost and inconvenience of using the official hospital car scheme.
Funding: The trustees include an Hon Treasurer and the Scheme has its own bank account. As a subsidised scheme, it is necessary to arrange a funding stream. Regular donations are made by the Parish Council, the PCC and the Methodist Council and occasional grants are sought from appropriate bodies. Funding LVCS has never proved a problem. The Scheme costs between £800 to £1,000 a year in subsidy.
Recruiting volunteers: This has proved to be easily accomplished in Ludham, where there is a particularly good community spirit. Each volunteer is required to produce details of vehicle, insurance and road fund tax and to undergo a DBS check (the old CRB check). The latter are done using a free service provided by Norfolk County Council. Currently LVCS has 32 volunteer drivers, six prescription collectors and the allimportant Scheme Co-ordinator, who has two deputies for when she is away. The number of volunteers is maintained by regular notes in the Parish News and by pouncing on new residents as they arrive!
Insurance: Public Liability is covered by the PCC’s insurance. The Association of British Insurers has a scheme whereby driver volunteers are fully covered under their own insurance with no additional premium. LVCS provides drivers with a draft letter to send to their insurers.
How the scheme operates
Villagers telephone the coordinator with details of their appointment. The co-ordinator tasks a volunteer and informs the villager of their transport. Easy! Last year, the Scheme carried out 356 ‘missions’ to 23 different medical locations. 141 of these were, unsurprisingly, to the local surgeries, but 107 were to hospitals. Since its inception in 2012, this Scheme has completed 2,615 missions and has just one annual meeting each year for volunteers.
Apart from the obvious access to medical appointments, the Scheme has other not insignificant benefits:
- Elderly and frail persons can continue live in their own homes as opposed to going into care
- Public transport is increasingly infrequent and, without the Scheme villagers would be unable to attend appointments outside the village
- The prescription delivering service can sometimes spot when a villager needs some additional care or service. A cup of tea and a chat are also welcomed by the lonely. As an elderly lady recently told a driver – “The Car Scheme is a Godsend!”
You can watch a brilliant short video called Acts of Loving Service in the Community which features Ludham’s Car Scheme on the Diocese of Norwich’s YouTube channel at www.DofN.org/loving
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