Sleaford area volunteer car service needs new home

Sleaford Voluntary Car Service co-ordinator Tony Farrow. EMN-170707-113248001
Sleaford Voluntary Car Service co-ordinator Tony Farrow. EMN-170707-113248001

A volunteer car service that provides a vital service ferrying Sleaford area patients to hospital and other medical appointments is desperately in need of a new base to call home.

Chairman of Sleaford and District Voluntary Car Service, Tony Farrow has administered the network of volunteer drivers from his home address for the last ten and a half years but he says he can no longer accommodate them.

He said: “All the calls for the car service come through on a private line.

“When people ring up they get me or an answer machine and I will call the customers back each time.”

He said over the last decade the scheme has taken nearly 6,200 people to GPs, hospitals and clinics all over the country, any day Monday to Saturday.

The voluntary car driving scheme enables the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged to attend appointments at hospitals, doctors, dentists or social events, where there is no transport available or they are unable to use public transport. The service covers the areas of Boston, Nottinghamshire, Grantham, Lincoln, Sleaford and others.

Mr Farrow said: “I am looking for somewhere I can take bookings, because the volume of calls we are getting at home is too much. We have been inundated with work over the last eight months.

“On a normal day I would get maybe 10 calls from 8.30am, then go out to do a hospital run. When I get back I would have another 10 calls to take and probably end up making 26 in a day.

“I am finding I am playing catch-up all the time and still ringing people back until 6pm or 7pm if they need to know if they can get a lift.

“We are joined at the hip to the phone and all the calls have been coming to me, so it is becoming too much.”

He said: “I am looking for a little office space, even if we could share an office with someone.

“Just a desk and a chair would do and we would put in our own phone line contracted to the car service, then look for two volunteers to run it to take bookings between 10am and 1pm and 1-4pm Monday to Friday. Outside those hours we would still have the answer machine.

“If successful we could then have an emergency contact number to ring me if there is a cancellation.”

Mr Farrow said that as the service barely breaks even from its payments, there would be only a nominal amount available for rent. He has been trying to find somewhere in town for the last three months without success to date.

“If people could just look inward, we could help each other out and if we don’t find an office the service will have to close down and that will be the end of the car service.”

Mr Farrow felt that would be a tragic shame as there is a great team of volunteer drivers, all willing to help people. He applauded them for their work.

He said he was quite prepared to continue running the service, except taking bookings.

Mr Farrow commented that they have found themselves quite busy with trips to A&E in the last few months as taxis are often taken up with school runs when patients might need them.

“It is a lifeline and the drivers are dismayed that there is a chance we could close. It is such a good service. We go out as far as customers in Walcott, Ancaster and Folkingham,” he said.

If you can help the car service in any way then call 01529 455110.