Crowdfunding bid for HMR Circle
Date published: 17 November 2020
Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) Circle Volunteer Drivers Service
Social enterprise Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) Circle, which works to reduce social isolation amongst older people, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to improve its Volunteer Drivers Service.
The Volunteer Drivers Service consists of DBS checked and vetted volunteers who take older people and vulnerable adults who can't, or struggle, to use public transport to hospital and medical appointments, shopping and social events. Pre-covid, the service completed around 1,500 trips every month.
HMR Circle wants to take the service onto the next level, using a 'ride hailing' system along the lines of those used by companies such as Uber.
One of the issues flagged up is a proportion of the people who access the HMR Circle Volunteer Drivers Service have short term memory issues or conditions such as low level dementia. By using a 'ride hailing' app the passenger can see what sort of car they will be driving in, who the driver is and a portion of the number plate.
The passenger will also be able to see how far away the car is from picking them up, reducing concerns if they think the volunteer driver will be late.
Even if the passenger doesn't have a smartphone, a simple call to the office and the Volunteer Drivers Service admin team will have a quick look at the system to check the location of the 'car' and advise the passenger accordingly. Alternatively, a venue or a concerned relative may call asking if a passenger is nearby. This new system will allow HMR Circle to help with this information, whilst remaining fully GDPR compliant.
Currently the volunteer drive service requires four working days' notice to book a journey. With a 'ride hailing' app it aspires to introduce an on-demand responsive service to deal with late appointment changes, emergency prescription collection or simply a surprise social event.
As well as an on-demand service, it will mean passenger can book trips any time of the day or night, where at present it is only possible to make a booking during office hours.
Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) Circle is a not-for-profit community interest company which works to reduce social isolation in older people through social events, practical support, befriending and a volunteer drivers service.
The organisation celebrated its eighth birthday during the pandemic, which forced it to repurpose its activities, moving social activities online and supporting the Covid Local Response Hubs, set up to provide emergency food parcels, assistance with shopping and delivering medicines, and wellbeing assistance.
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