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Frome Community Drivers get you there!

A FROME service providing volunteer drivers and deliveries for people in need reported high demand last month and is looking forward to widening its scope as lockdown restrictions ease. 

Figures from Frome Community Drivers, which is now part of the town’s  Active and In Touch support charity, show that in the first three weeks of March, 185 journeys had been undertaken, which compared to 115 journeys in both January and February. 

Morag, who is at FCD’s helm feels this increased demand has occurred for a number of reasons including referral from various agencies, taking passengers to routine medical examinations and vaccinations at Frome Medical Centre and Shepton Mallet Hospital, supporting a couple of Frome College students who have had injuries causing mobility problems, as well as regularly taking people to Bristol Eye Hospital and Southmead.

Morag likes the variety of requests she receives for transport, giving a couple of recent examples – one was to ensure a mother who would have struggled during bad weather to get her daughter plus younger child in a pram to Frome Medical Centre in time to see a consultant who had travelled to Frome especially for the appointment, and the charity’s support of the Ambulance Service has ensured delivery of wheelchairs to Accident and Emergency for Frome residents dependent upon their use. 

Currently Morag co-ordinates the journeys undertaken by her team of more than 25 drivers.  One of these is Mervyn, Frome born and bred, who has been a Frome Community Driver since August 2020.  He came to this having previously spent 14 years driving for Mendip Community Transport and Dial a Ride, amongst other organisations.  

He decided to volunteer for FCD when the lockdown started as he recognised there was a need to help people, especially those who were older, and whilst observing all regulations, still had to get out and about for shopping or visiting the medical centre. 

Mervyn’s local knowledge certainly came in useful for some of his early journeys when Frome town centre was closed and alternative routes were required.  

The journey to RUH is one which Mervyn particularly likes.  He has regular passengers and so has got to know them over the past months.  Mervyn is ‘pleased to be a part of this excellent service’, paying tribute to Morag’s by saying she is “excellent in her job”. 

Debbie is also a relatively recent addition to the team.  Moving with her partner from Sheffield to Frome two years ago, she has been volunteering since the beginning of the first lockdown.  Debbie, who loves driving, wanted to get to know the community in which she has settled and felt this role would be the ideal way to do just that. 

Her experience in the medical world through working in a large NHS hospital meant that Debbie has worked closely with people and loved hearing about their backgrounds.  She has been able to continue this whilst ferrying passengers to and from their destination.  

“It has been a brilliant way to give something to the community we have moved to”, says Debbie who recognises the role she can play as like Mervyn, Debbie offers support whilst driving.  Sometimes, for example, she may be taking an apprehensive passenger for whom the journey is the first time outside of the home in months. 

She has taken one lady to visit her daughter on a few occasions and feels she has got to know her.  Conversations can be very interesting; one passenger has been an author and illustrator who used to live in South Africa. 

Debbie sums up “It’s a wonderful thing to do and I’m glad I went in that direction.  The people I drive are so appreciative of the service”.

Hopefully, as the prime minister’s road pap for loosening of regulations continues, FCD looks forward to continuing its services in providing transport for a wider range of functions.   

If you would like to book a driver for a forthcoming journey or join the FCD team, please make contact on  hello@fromecommunitydrivers.org.uk or 07596 591391 to find out more.  

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