North Oxfordshire Volunteer Driver Service launches fundraising campaign to help pay for PPE

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The North Oxfordshire Volunteer Driver Service (VDS) has launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for PPE for its drivers.

Keith Davies, the volunteer manager for the Citizens Advice of North Oxon and South Northants, said: "When COVID-19 kicked off we were doing a full community transport scheme.

"We've not been able to take people since the 2m rule kicked in."

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At the onset of Covid-19 the Volunteer Driver Service (VDS) started delivering emergency food parcels across the Cherwell area.

North Oxfordshire Volunteer Driver ServiceNorth Oxfordshire Volunteer Driver Service
North Oxfordshire Volunteer Driver Service

On April 18 the charity stopped transporting people, and concentraded its efforts on delivering meals to people in the community.

The charity received 200 applications from interested volunteers to help with the food parcel delivery service during the lockdown. But they only needed and used 120 drivers during the lockdown.

They delivered emergency food parcels to people in the community. Each parcel came with a leaflet from Citizens Advice with information on where people could get help if needed.

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Since March 24 the volunteers drivers have made 459 journeys, delivered 1,671 food parcels and driven 3,900 miles across the Cherwell District during lockdown.

Keith added: "This has been good, but we're looking forward to getting back to the patient transport and not having the need to deliver these food parcels.

"Volunteer Driver Service are now in a position to return to passenger transport but we need to purchase COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) to do so.

"Our wonderful volunteer food drivers have so far donated 82 per cent of the total paid as a fuel allowance into the PPE pot.

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"Put quite simply, VDS are very humbled by this gesture from what are on the whole brand new drivers, who are looking to get our core passenger drivers back onto the road to help our community.

"Ideally VDS are hoping to get Volunteer Driver Service taking people to appointments, when there is no reasonable alternative transport available, once again by mid-July.

"Volunteer Driver Service are looking for additional funds from the public and business in and around Cherwell, and are grateful for any help no matter how big or small you are able to give."

The charity set up a Just Giving webpage to help their fundraising campaign.

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Anyone who would like to make a contribution to help the charity reach its £1,000 target can use the following link: Driver Service (VDS) North Oxfordshire is a Citizens Advice community transport service established in April 2012.

VDS plays a vital role in combating loneliness and isolation, supporting social inclusion, and helping people remain independent. Volunteer drivers use their own cars to help Cherwell residents get to medical and social appointments where there is no reasonable travel alternative.

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