Vital Banbury charity reaches milestone
Volunteer drivers and organisers celebrated the 40th anniversary of Cherwell CVS last week.
Originally formed as the Banbury Volunteer Bureau in October 1979, the charity has become an essential life line to many of its users.
Nigel Randall, chairman of the charity, says the Cherwell CVS’s anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the freely-given time and effort of its dedicated volunteers.
The charity has two distinct operations: the volunteer driver service and a furniture recycling service.
The volunteer driver scheme provides essential transport for those unable to use public transport or get lifts from friends or family. It serves Banbury, Bicester and surrounding villages, taking clients to appointments at hospitals, doctors, dentists, chiropodists and others.
It is run from a small office in South Bar, Banbury, staffed by volunteers who take calls from clients requesting lifts and match them with drivers’ availability.
To cover their costs, drivers charge a flat rate of £5 within Banbury or Bicester, and elsewhere 47p per mile of which 2p goes to the Cherwell CVS as an administration fee.
This is much cheaper than a taxi enabling more people to access the service.
Shirley Kershaw, currently the longest-serving volunteer in the transport office with 20 years’ service, said: "They often say ‘We couldn’t manage without you', and that is one of the things that makes volunteering so worthwhile."
Most trips are local, and many are to hospitals in Oxford. But specific client requests over the years have occasionally taken drivers as far as Southampton, London and Norwich.
Some 25 volunteer drivers undertake in total about 1,000 trips per year, meaning the Cherwell CVS service is twice as big as some similar operations in the county.
Cherwell CVS’s furniture recycling store has recently relocated to a site on the Beaumont Industrial Estate, recycling unwanted furniture and household goods at low cost to people on benefits or reduced incomes.
The store recycles beds, tables, chairs, electrical goods, table lamps and genuine vinyl records. A three piece suite could be yours for just £50.
In 2004 Cherwell CVS was honoured by the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Voluntary Service, one of only 110 groups nationally to receive the award.
To find out more visit their website.