HMR Circle service wins Volunteer Car Scheme of the Year award

Date published: 22 November 2021

The Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) Circle Volunteer Drivers Service has been named Volunteer Car Scheme of the Year at the 2021 Community Transport Association (CTA) Awards.

Held virtually on Thursday 18 November, organisers announced HMR Circle as champion, describing how the local community interest company impressed judges ‘with the scope and creativity of the work they did, putting in place so many different services and ideas to keep their community connected’.

The Volunteer Drivers Service was established in 2008 to respond to the needs of local older people who required a flexible, responsive, and affordable service. It was originally setup to help people aged 50 and over by providing door to door trips to medical appointments and social activities across the borough.

HMR Circle took over the scheme in February 2018 and since then, the service users have increased; being recognised as a vital service for the elderly, vulnerable and isolated members of the Rochdale community, providing an accessible and affordable transport service across the borough and beyond.

The scheme has now seen over 20,000 trips completed, taking older people and vulnerable adults to hospital and other medical appointments, shopping, day services and more.

More recently, during the heart of the pandemic and continuing since, the volunteer drivers have delivered an amazing service across the borough; collecting and delivering prescriptions and valuable PPE to care homes and doctors’ surgeries. They also completed hundreds of shopping trips as well as creating the Dinner Drivers project with the Veterans Food Company - a modern take on a Meals on Wheels Service.

Since restrictions have been eased, passenger transport has returned to compliment activities such as the delivery of craft packs or books from HMR Circle’s lending library.

Commenting on the community interest company’s recent win, Mary Burke, HMR Circle Volunteer Drivers Service Coordinator said: “I am so proud. Well done to our amazing team of staff and volunteers.”

HMR Circle Director, Mark Wynn, was glowing in his praise of the team behind the HMR Circle Volunteer Drivers Service. He added: “Mary and our office-based volunteers and the amazing Volunteer Drivers have been real heroes during the last 18 months and beyond, constantly going above and beyond for the people we work with and support.

“We look forward to expanding the VDS into new areas and developing an even better service for our members.”

CTA Chief Executive, Bill Freeman, said: "Car schemes have had a huge impact throughout the pandemic, often as people’s only lifeline to access essential services like medical appointments, or as a way of delivering supplies to those who need them the most, all whilst keeping Covid-secure.

"All of our nominees have done fantastic work and our judges were particularly impressed with the entries that, as well as focusing on supporting passengers, made sure that the needs of volunteers, many of whom had to isolate themselves, were cared for.

“A huge congratulations to our 2021 Volunteer Car Scheme of the Year winner HMR Circle CIC.”

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