Back in March, as the country went into lockdown, Supportive, a registered charity and not for profit organisation founded in 1994 helping people to achieve a better quality of life, immediately started to investigate how they could continue to support the people of County Durham to get to school and to much needed health appointments once restrictions were lifted.
With over 140 volunteer drivers, Supportive transport adults and children in support of Durham County Council and manage the Help to Health transport scheme in support of the Clinical Commissioning Groups.
As a significant proportion of the volunteering team are over the age of 60, and many over 70, it was important to find a way to welcome them back safely as the need for journeys began again.
In conjunction with their domiciliary care service, Supportive staff dedicating time and resource and, with the application of some creative thinking, ensured the purchase of enough PPE and antibacterial solutions, made possible with added support and donations from businesses and individuals.
With safety of both passenger and volunteer driver in mind they developed a ‘Safety Kit’ complete with masks, wipes, googles, hand gel and gloves, held in a wipe down box with clip closing. Research was also conducted to find an easy to clean shield style solution that could be fitted to the volunteer’s car easily and without damage to the vehicle, creating a barrier between the front and rear seats. After a number of sample tests, Supportive successfully found a Dutch manufacturer who supplied 100 ‘Driver Bubbles’.
The safety kits have been issued to all drivers and the bubbles are being fitted now to offer reassurance to passengers and give them the confidence to volunteer once more, knowing that they are prepared with safety measures in place. We are delighted to say that feedback from both passengers and the volunteer drivers has so far been very positive.
If you require information about Help to Health or are interested in becoming a volunteer driver go to helptohealth.org.uk or supportive.org.uk for details.