Lack of funds, volunteers puts van service at risk

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 30/04/2014

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The hospital courtesy van service is in jeopardy if future funding and volunteers are not sourced, says its organiser.

Last year Southland Disabilities Resource Centre lost the District Health Board contract for Home Support Services to run the van.

But centre general manager Debbie Webster said the service was so vital to the community it was not scrapped. Instead, a suggested donation of $2 per trip was started,

Between April 2013 and last month 2,200 people were transported to hospital for appointments, and the numbers were increasing.

The van service, which had been running for about 10 years, was reliant on community funding and the goodwill of the volunteer drivers, Webster said.

"We are is just about getting by."

The centre receives about $8700 each year from donations and community funders such as the ILT Foundation.

The funds are used to pay a part time co-ordinator and up to 10 volunteer drivers, and for on-road costs such as insurance, registration and maintenance.

"If we do not secure future funding, this service is at great risk of being disestablished," Webster said.

She urged more people to come forward and volunteer to drive the van.

"If we don't have drivers, we don't have a service."

ILT Foundation chairman Alan Dennis said Trustees saw the courtesy transport as a much-needed service and therefore increased the annual grant from $12,500 to $15,000 to assist.

 

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