DCSIMG

Charity’s ‘vital service’

Community bus run by Our Centre, helping elderly and disabled people to get out and about in Sutton

Community bus run by Our Centre, helping elderly and disabled people to get out and about in Sutton

Leaving the house is something that most of us do on a daily basis without a second thought.

We can jump in our cars to drive where we need to go, walk to the pub, take the bus to town, and generally get out and about whenever we want to.

But some people find themselves all but housebound due to illness, disability or a lack of confidence, or because of a below-par local public transport service that restricts where and when they can travel.

It is in these circumstances that a Kirkby-based charity comes into its own, offering a lifeline to people across Mansfield and Ashfield who would otherwise be left home alone all day, every day.

Our Centre, on Pond Street, offers two main services - a community transport service and ‘More2life’, which organises social activities aimed at older people.

The transport service provides accessible and affordable transport in the form of minibuses and cars which are driven by a team of volunteers who take people from their homes to work, shops, medical appointments and a range of other destinations.

Paul Williamson has been involved with Our Centre as a volunteer driver since he retired from work, and uses his own car to take clients out and about.

“I thought I would give it a go,” he said.

“I was not sure that I wanted to but once I started doing it, I began to realise how vital something like this is.

“Without this service I wonder how some of the people we take out would cope.”

Our Centre is non-profit making and charges just small amount for its door to door service. Volunteers can claim expenses.

Its ‘Shopper’ bus service runs every Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings from Selston, Jacksdale, Huthwaite and Sutton to Sutton bus station.

Margaret Yates (65), of Sherwood Way, Selston, has used it since she retired.

She does not have a car and says it is ‘very convenient’.

“It picks me up at the end of my street and drops me off at the end of my street so it saves me walking to the bus stop, otherwise I have a long walk down to the bus and back uphill,” she said.

“But it’s not as popular as it should be because people don’t know about it.”

Our Centre receives funding from Nottinghamshire County Council, Ashfield District Council and other funding bodies, but at a time of austerity and cuts, its services are increasingly being put at risk.

“Over the years funding from various sources has been cut and things are now at a stage that some or all of the above services are under threat,” Paul said.

“If Our Centre closes the quality of life of many people in this area will be adversely affected.”

The charity is hoping that more people who may benefit from the service come forward to use it in order to make it more sustainable.

Spreading the word about what it offers is key to this.

The More2life programme aims to help people who do not go out as much as they used to enjoy life and needs people to participate in order to make it successful.

Suitable for those who are disabled or elderly, widowed or isolated, lonely and without any family support, it offers a range of activities that vary from day trips, theatre and cinema visits, to walking for health groups, seated exercise and swimming, to just a good old cuppa and a chat.

Said Paul: “We know there are people out there who have never heard of Our Centre and think, ‘crikey, I could use that’, when they do.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about Our Centre should call Mansfield 753192 or visit www.ourcentreashfield.co.uk.

The charity is also always looking for more volunteers, including in admin roles.

 

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