‘Lifeline’ West Norfolk transport service seeks new volunteers

Chris Garner, a driver for West Norfolk Community Transport
Chris Garner, a driver for West Norfolk Community Transport
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A charity which provides a vital lifeline to help people get around West Norfolk and beyond needs help to meet the demand for its services.

West Norfolk Community Transport (WNCT), which is based at the St Augustine’s Centre in North Lynn, provided almost 85,000 journeys to passengers travelling to destinations as far apart as Fakenham and Ely, during the year to March.

And the group ran a further 16,000 trips during April and May a level of demand which, if maintained until next spring, would see the number of journeys it runs soar by well more than 10 per cent.

Now, the charity is calling for new volunteer drivers and personal assistants to join the ranks of a service which officials say is an essential part of the community.

General manager Paul Ruskin said: “The services we are [providing are a lifeline, helping people to maintain their independence, access local health facilities and, perhaps most importantly, preventing them from becoming isolated.”

Founded in 1992, the charity offers connections from communities across West Norfolk into Lynn, Downham and Hunstanton, as well as towns including Swaffham, Fakenham, Watton, Wells and Ely.

For one Lynn resident, Gloria Chrieten, who is blind, the service is truly a lifeline as its drivers take her to medical appointments or to the shops.

She said: “I don’t know where I would be without this service.”

But, while WNCT is probably most commonly associated with helping elderly or disabled people get to medical appointments, its services are much wider than that and include a range of dial a ride and flexibus links, as well as school transport contracts in rural areas.

Mr Ruskin said: “There is a perception community transport is just for the elderly or those with disabilities, but that is so far from the truth.

“Our services support a broad spectrum of the community ranging from young people, clubs and other voluntary groups. We offer a cost-effective solution to those facing life without wheels, so to speak.

“We are very fortunate as we are very well supported by community-minded funders – particularly Norfolk County Council and the West Norfolk Council, both of which help to fund the services we provide.

“However, we are run on a very tight budget and survive through our own income generation, support from within the community and its dedicated team of volunteers, so any further support is always welcome.”

Anyone who wants to get involved with the scheme should phone 01553 776971 for more information.