Older folk to get on the road in Heathfield

One of Heathfield's minibuses in action
One of Heathfield's minibuses in action

Older folk in Heathfield and surrounding villages are set to become even more mobile.

Last January the town’s Age Concern organisers made a bid to obtain a new minibus from the Government. This week they found out they have been successful.

Age Concern chairman Mike Hepworth explained that this £25m Department of Transport initiative is designed to support small, not for profit, charities and other organisations throughout Britain and to enable them to maintain and expand transport services for disadvantaged and socially isolated residents in rural areas.

Heathfield Age Concern is a well established and highly regarded local charity. It has been providing a door-to-door minibus service for shopping and social activities for more than 30 years as well as a year-round programme of events and activities.

Mike explained: “Our volunteer car service also transports to hospitals, surgeries and clinics throughout our region. It is frequently over subscribed. Having a new minibus will enable us to secure our future and provide more services. We also hope that it will help us to attract much-needed volunteers to join us in providing these valuable services.”

More than 300 local charities and community groups across England will receive new minibuses from the Department for Transport’s community transport minibus fund, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced on March 26.

He said: “The funding will help elderly residents, people with learning and physical disabilities and those who do not have access to a commercial bus service.

“The minibuses will improve the everyday lives of people in rural communities and provide a vital link to medical services, shops, and social events.

“The Department will look to using the fund to support additional schemes this summer. This fund will buy more than 300 new vehicles, some specially adapted, to help these organisations continue to carry out their important work in the community. We have had an overwhelming response, which demonstrates the importance of this fund, and I am keen to support similar schemes in the future.”