The Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC) has reason to celebrate this Summer 2017 and Outside the Box are very happy to congratulate them and share this guest blog from Ros Munro, social development & recruitment officer for the company.

Our Community Car Scheme is turning 20 years old, a great milestone to reach! Setting up the scheme initially was a fantastic achievement in itself, responding to a community need to get people to and from public transport hubs, to access public bus services and trains.

From its humble beginnings in July 1997, the Community Car Scheme has grown to be one of the largest in Scotland, with 130 volunteer drivers using their own vehicles to offer door to door transport for the 1550 registered clients who may be vulnerable, elderly, have a disability, or simply have a transport need. Drivers heard what their passengers’ needs were, so the service evolved to meet those needs and now offers journeys to vital life and health services and social activities. For many people in Badenoch & Strathspey the Community Car Scheme is a real lifeline, without which they would be pretty isolated.

“I don’t know where I would be without you. Really stuck, I imagine.”

“I wouldn’t get out my house if it wasn’t for the Car Scheme.”

“They come and help me into the car, then take me round the shop and pack my shopping and carry it into my house. It’s just marvellous.”

These are typical of the quotes that we receive from clients. They are extremely grateful for the help from our volunteers. Some runs may be very short, but the distance would be a marathon to people with impaired mobility, low vision, or other health issues. Many friendships have been forged while travelling together and people are able to remain living independently in their own homes for longer, because we can get them out. Loneliness and isolation decrease and health and wellbeing increases for both clients and volunteers, with increased social interaction and better connections between the communities of Badenoch & Strathspey.

Transport is at the heart of it all, but we now offer social inclusion services, such as assisted shopping, afternoon tea dances, befriending, lunch and supper clubs and IT support classes. Our main aim is to break down the barriers leading to social isolation and get people more motivated to participate in their communities. We want people to enjoy the rural area in which we live, not suffer because of its remoteness.

As Rural Wisdom project, we are keen to share these stories and learn from things like this which are working to help make rural areas better for everyone as we get older. This is a great example which is addressing a real need in the area. If you’d like to know more about the scheme, visit the BSCTC website or contact Ros Munro.

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