Portishead Porters need help

The Portishead Porters scheme was started 23 years ago, providing volunteer drivers who will take people to and from hospital appointments from their front door.
Nurse stood in front of an ambulance

However, with the recent growth of the town and also the fact quite a few of the drivers have now retired from the role, the group is looking for a number of new people to give their time to the valued service and ensure all transport requests can be met.

The scheme has almost 50 drivers registered as volunteers, with about 30 active at any one time and the rest taken up with family commitments, holidays or illness.

Last year, they completed an impressive 1,986 journeys, which averages at about 165 per month.

This is an increase of almost 200 annual journeys compared to figures from 2011.

Requests for transport are made through the town’s health centres and are turned around so a driver is available within 48 hours.

Ann Skelhorne of the Portishead Porters said: “It is a fantastic facility for residents as the patient has independence and doesn’t have to rely on family to shuttle them to and from their appointments.

“It also gives affordability – the taxi fare each way would be extortionate – and companionship – the porter takes the patient to their appointment and awaits a call to pick them up when their appointment finishes.

“Most hospitals are two bus rides and are on difficult terrain so the porters are a godsend to many.”

The porters will take patients to hospitals in Bristol, Weston and Bath, including Bristol Royal Infirmary, the eye hospital, dental hospital, St Michaels, Southmead and Emersons Green.

Anyone wishing to volunteer should have their own car and have a few hours free each week. For more details call Vera Sanders on 01275 814002. Drivers are reimbursed with 45p per mile.

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