Updated: Jan 5, 2019
The Denby Dale Centre is very proud to announce an increased investment of £99,610.00 by the Big Lottery and Government "Building Connections Fund" to help build Better Transport, Better Connections and Better Lives for residents in Kirklees.
Minister for Loneliness, Mims Davies, speaking about the first Government loneliness fund, said “...There is no one cause of loneliness and therefore no one solution. That is why we are working alongside a broad range of businesses, voluntary organisations and local councils to ensure that those who feel alone are best supported.
“From new digital communities, to sports classes that bring people together, this fund will go a long way to achieving that goal. I am committed to encouraging open conversations around this sensitive topic to reduce the stigma and create an environment where everyone is better connected...”
The improvement to local people across the whole of Kirklees will help the local independent charity (The Denby Dale Centre) to achieve it's aims, to reduce isolation, reduce loneliness and improve quality of life. There will be a series of transport projects across #Kirklees commencing in a few months, without a view to profit, and with social enterprise sustainability.
The Denby Dale Centre has been providing #communitytransport services in Kirklees for over 12 years, hiring out it's not for profit minibuses to community groups on a self-drive basis or including a driver. Over 50 community groups already benefit from these existing services located around Kirklees including Batley, Golcar, Holmfirth, Gomersall, Huddersfield, Deighton, Dewsbury and more.
The new fund helps the Denby Dale Centre to increase it's fleet size and to keep at least one of it's vehicles in Huddersfield, making self drive more available to groups. This location, along with the present Denby Dale Centre site and complementing the existing HCT/CTC Join Book Drive minibus in Dewsbury, creates a positive spread of self drive #minibus provision for community groups across Kirklees. The new site will be just outside #Huddersfield town centre, making it available to more Huddersfield based groups who need help with transport.
Further to the minibus purchase and location, an exciting development for Kirklees, will be the expansion of the already successful Volunteer Car Service which presently operates with around 20 volunteers, who drive their own cars in the rural areas of Kirklees (Colne Valley, Holme Valley and Dearne Valley). This type of service is a bespoke transport service which helps people to overcome transport barriers on a one to one basis. Trips are expected to be for hospital visits, health appointments, shopping, hair-dressers, visiting friends and social groups.
Carly, an existing Volunteer Car Service (VCS) user from rural Kirklees who is in her 30's, is registered blind and was using the VCS service to go between her home and Huddersfield Railway Station, to access a special group in Leeds who provide services for people living with limited vision. Through using this service, this user has been selected from this group to represent Yorkshire in the Blind Cricket team, and the car service now helps her get to her team practices and matches.
The VCS is a caring, low pressure on passengers, taking time for passengers, service and is unlike existing transport provision due to this nature. Volunteer drivers vary, however most volunteers are happy to accompany someone into the waiting room at a doctors surgery, or walk around the supermarket with the passenger.
Passengers with low confidence or who are living with anxiety may benefit from this type of service, and through using it is hoped that they will gain confidence to eventually return to using existing public transport and taxi services in the area. The service is not to take passengers who already use those existing services, however to increase the number of people who are using transport services.
Other new services will be an attempt to coordinate an improved Shopper Bus Network across Kirklees, running a door-to-door minibus transport service in each district. This service will complement the existing Access Bus service which operates across Kirklees and increase the number of people living a more independent lifestyle.
The Denby Dale Centre is one of many community groups who operate minibuses in Kirklees, and will be inviting all community minibus operators to form a network of operators. The group could start linking together with a view to sharing some best practice procedures and learn about support infrastructure, operating law and to network with each other. There is an intention that by linking together, minibus operators can support each other, for example, at times when a minibus is off the road for a scheduled or unscheduled visit to a garage, or even at times of higher seasonal pressures for transport.
The Chief Officer of the Denby Dale Centre said the following about the Building Connections Fund award "...The Denby Dale Centre has shared it's "transport vision" for Kirklees with the local council and is reputed to deliver quality services in Kirklees at the community level. Our organisation is already operating a small community transport operation and by doing so, we understand the size of transport gaps in so many areas around Kirklees. We would like to work closer with other minibus operators including community transport providers inside Kirklees to ensure our transport gaps are filled wherever possible. The shopper bus network may help relieve some pressures as some bus routes are lost, especially in rural areas.
"Through attending the Kirklees Loneliness Strategy Forum meetings, The Denby Dale Centre has learned about the scale of people who cannot get to their local social activities due to lacking affordable, reliable or safe transport. This grant will help us to improve that situation, although it is not a magic-wand to solve the problem, it will be a starting point and an important part of the solution.
"We operate with 20 volunteers who drive their own cars, and a further ten volunteers who drive our minibus fleet - we will be launching a recruitment campaign in the New Year to at least double that number to help to achieve the vision and reduce the amount of loneliness in Kirklees..."
New services are expected to start in April 2019, when the two year funded period will start. The changes will also see a new employed position working for the Denby Dale Centre, of a Volunteer Supervisor to help with recruitment, safeguarding, induction and training of the new volunteers.
Anyone wishing to join this very successful team can register via the website www.ddc.org.uk/volunteer or call on 01484 860077. New volunteers will be required to complete the safeguarding process including two references, one DBS check, an introductions meeting and complete a registration form. They will then be given opportunities to do FREE training at our Training Centre, with courses ranging from first aid to manual handling.
VCS volunteer drivers will be able to claim 40p per mile in expenses from, and back to their own home, which is what we charge our passengers.
More information about the Denby Dale Centre can be found at www.ddc.org.uk and by contacting telephone 01484 860077.