A Banbury community transport group has turned to crowdfunding website gofundme.com to finance vital repairs to its fleet of vehicles.
With no external funding and just one volunteer, Kevyn Powell, coordinator of Banbury Assisted Transport Scheme, has been fighting a lonely battle for the past three years to keep his charitable organisation running.
Previously a coordinator for Banbury Community Transport Association (BCTA) under the umbrella of Dial-a-Ride until the charity folded in 2012, Mr Powell used his redundancy package of £11,000 to keep his family afloat while setting up a new community transport organisation. He sold his house and moved into rented accommodation in order to devote his free time to providing around 60 elderly and vulnerable people in Banburyshire free transport each week.
But now faults have developed in both tail lifts of the two Mercedes Sprinter Treka minivans, and it will cost £800 for repairs and to carry out statutory inspections.
Mr Powell said he turned to crowdfunding as one of his few alternatives to dipping into his own pockets.
“I had never heard of crowdfunding until three weeks ago when my son mentioned it to me.” said Mr Powell, 59. “All we want to do is help as many people as possible in the Banbury area. We ask the people using to give a contribution that doesn’t even cover the cost of diesel.”
Despite Banbury Assisted Transport Scheme’s challenging financial circumstances, Mr Powell said he is determined he will not let his charity die. “Subsidised transport is currently on a knife edge.” he said. “The county council think they can save all the millions they need to save but they are relying on people like myself who are doing a lot of work for nothing or just peanuts and they assume we will do it for nothing.
“I have always known the day will come round when somebody will see us doing a good job and say ‘let’s help him.’
Mr Powell added:“I have devoted 22 years of my life into this, it is my passion. I will not let community transport die.”
Oxfordshire County Council is currently consulting on whether to scrap its Dial-a-Ride service and potentially scrap some or all of the grant it currently pays to subsidise bus services which are not commercially viable in Oxfordshire.
If you would like to make a donation you can do so online at: http://www.gofundme.com/batsliftrepair.