‘Travel for All’ initiative needs volunteers

‘TRAVEL for All’ aims to combat social isolation amongst older, vulnerable people in Hampshire by giving them the confidence to use public and community transport.

However, as well as making the scheme known to potential users, there is a need for more volunteers to become involved.

The initiative is organised by Hampshire County Council and it is working with registered charity MHA, South Western Railway, and transport specialists Atkins to offer support to senior citizens who want to get out and about.

MHA’s Deputy Scheme Manager Beth Ward told The Globe: “The idea is that a volunteer will work one on one with the older person to find local routes and times and support them through the process of making the journey. This could be in person support where necessary but more likely remote help over the phone.

“Further support can then be given to make further journeys or to give the older person the confidence and tools to plan their own journeys from then on.”

The emphasis is on getting senior citizens to make local journeys, such as going to an appointment, to a social club, or to do some shopping in the supermarket.

Almost 20 older people were supported when the scheme was piloted during November and December, and each one has continued to use public transport.

It has now been extended until March 2023, and there is a call for people to become voluntary ‘Travel Trainers’.

Volunteers will be DBS checked and the training will be online, though Beth Ward said it may be possible to do the training in person at MHA’s local office in Bridgemary Methodist Church, Gosport.

The county council’s Executive Member for Highways Operations, Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, said: “We would really like to hear from volunteers who, with the training provided, feel they can give clients the support they need to travel independently on public and community transport.

“We would also like to hear from older, more vulnerable people who wish to travel this way but need help to increase their confidence, to get out and about more independently and realise how much they could benefit from travel.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to be a travel trainer or who wants to obtain Travel for All support should contact Beth Ward by email at: Beth.ward@mha.org.uk, or telephone 0756 861 1995.

Image (top): Travel for All poster. MHA, reproduced with permission