Transport charity seeks drivers

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A Mid Argyll charity is driving home the need for volunteers to help keep up its long-standing patient transport work.

Mid Argyll Transport Volunteers (MATV) has been operating as a registered charity since the mid-1990s, although MATV has run more informally since at least the mid 1980s – and now it’s looking for everyday heroes in the Mid Argyll area to help the group amidst a shortage of drivers.

Malcolm MacDonald, one of the volunteer drivers, said: ‘MATV’s service has expanded in recent years, from taking people to medical appointments in Mid Argyll, to the current service, which includes long-distance journeys taking people to hospitals and care centres in Oban, Paisley, Glasgow and Inverclyde.

‘One of the reasons behind the origin of the service was thought to be the closure of the Ardrishaig surgery.

‘Patients had to travel over to Lochgilphead for appointments from then on. For older, vulnerable, and less mobile people, that was difficult. It’s easy to see where the need for this service comes from in that regard.

‘Still now, we take elderly, disabled, isolated and vulnerable people to their appointments or appointments, and to access treatments which may not be available locally. Volunteer drivers use their own vehicles for these journeys, and are paid a mileage allowance.’

Malcolm explained who this sort of volunteering could be best suited to – although all corners of the Mid Argyll community are welcome.

He said: ‘We don’t have any assets. We’ve never owned a vehicle. We’re simply looking for people with time on their hands, perhaps those who have retired, or parents whose children are already at school and who have some time during the day.

‘We understand that people might only be available one day a week, have other interests, or things taking up their time.

‘But if a reason people are hesitant to volunteer is because they’re not confident driving in Glasgow, then there are lots of local routes in Mid Argyll which need drivers.

‘Volunteers choose their own availability, so any help that anyone can give is more than welcome.

‘It’s gotten to a point where we haven’t been able to cater for all the calls asking for transportation.

‘There has been an upsurge in demand because, with the easing of restrictions this year from the height of the pandemic, there has been a backlog of hospital appointments for hospitals and GP surgeries to meet.’

All volunteers complete an adult-specific Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check. MATV will arrange this for volunteers.

Meanwhile, MATV is also looking for a secretary to aid the charity’s work.

Malcolm added: ‘Most of the secretary’s duties involve taking minutes at the meeting which are held every quarter.’

Contact Catherine Kennedy, the charity’s co-ordinator, on 01546 603564 or email matvcoordinator@gmail.com

The charity has a Facebook page – Mid Argyll Volunteers Together