Volunteer drivers thanked for lockdown dedication

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A Mid-Argyll charity which had to rapidly change direction under coronavirus lockdown has thanked its volunteers for their service.

Mid Argyll Transport Volunteers (MATV) was set up as a service primarily for the elderly and disabled, taking people to and from medical appointments, social occasions and on shopping trips.

But lockdown on March 23 stopped all that, and MATV had to find a new direction.

Volunteers found themselves doing much-needed shopping and prescription deliveries, and more besides, across Mid Argyll throughout the 13 weeks of lockdown, working in partnership with the council’s Caring for People service.

Many volunteer drivers with MATV are retired folk with time on their hands, but the pandemic forced a number of them to shield from the virus.

The charity’s co-ordinater Catherine Kennedy said: ‘We only had 10 drivers available in total during lockdown – but seven of these were new drivers who came forward to volunteer during coronavirus.

‘Our drivers have been rushed off their feet, but they have been an absolute Godsend to many people. In a lot of cases, our drivers were their only contact with the outside world.

‘They have been right in the front line and have really gone above and beyond to help people. Everyone has all the PPE they need, such as masks, visors, gloves and the like, but it’s not stretching it to say the drivers have been putting their own lives at risk, because nobody knows where the virus might be.’

‘Thanks to them from myself and the MATV committee,’ said Catherine.

‘From my own point of view, the committee has been fantastic with their support and encouragement during what has been a hard time for everyone.’

After weeks of not knowing whether MATV could get closer to resuming normal service, there was a glimmer of hope earlier this week.

Over-70s drivers are now allowed to volunteer again and, speaking on Tuesday, Catherine explained: ‘I have just got word it is looking good for Monday July 6 to start taking essential clients to and from GP and hospital appointments, though this has still to be confirmed.’