Campaign in Bexleyheath aims to get vital minibus service moving!

A campaign to provide a lifeline to more community groups around the borough is underway.

Fundraisers are trying to get £30,000 together to buy a state-of-the-art new minibus, which can be driven by anyone with a regular car licence, benefiting groups, elderly and disabled people across Bexley.

Bexley Accessible Transport Scheme launched the scheme outside Argos at Broadway Shopping Centre.

The centre is donating £7,00 toward the Bats service for 2017.

Grandmother-of-two Rosemary White has joined Bats staff and volunteers to get the jobs done.

The 84-year-old, who suffers with Type 2 Diabetes, relies on the service to buy fresh food to maintain her diet.

“Apart from getting food every week it gets me out to meet people and have a chat,” said the Erith Park resident.

“When I started using the service more than five years ago I didn’t have quite as many things wrong with me but now it’s so important I’m able to get out because of my health.

“I have to eat right and it allows me to get out and buy fresh food and fruit. It’s literally a lifeline for me.

“Everything becomes much heavier when you get older and it becomes more difficult. There’s a little hill up the road to where I live and I couldn’t pull trolley up there. The brilliant thing about the service is the driver brings in the bags for you.”

She added: “I’m proud to support the campaign. The service is absolutely brilliant. I would love to see a new mini bus on the road and other community groups benefitting.”

Lorraine Stares CEO at Bats, said: “In the past, we’ve had groups calling to say their driver is unwell and because they’ve been the only licence holder, they’ve had to cancel trips,” she said.

“If we’re able to purchase one of the new lightweight vehicles for our fleet, then it opens the door to lots more community groups and organisations as anyone with a normal driving licence will be qualified to drive.

“We have at least 20 regular users of our ‘hop and shop’ service which has been going for eight years now.

“Some of our users can’t walk to their local corner shops to get what they need. Our drivers are very patient and help the service users. Sometimes it’s the only time these people get to see anybody.”

Source : Bexley Times 

By Luke May

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