Appeal for drivers as charity prepares for new minibus service

THE Heads Up charity is close to fulfilling its ambition to provide minibus transport for clients who cannot get to its base in South Horrington otherwise.

Wells Rotary Club has been leading a fundraising drive to buy a minibus for the charity, and is just £2,500 short of the £25,000 figure required. The two organisations have also launched a campaign to recruit volunteer drivers to drive the minibus once it has been acquired.

“A lot of clients love to come here but we have always struggled with transport,” said Bridget Harvey, Service Director at the mental health and wellbeing charity.

There is no community transport, bus services are being cut, and some people in the local community who would like to get to Heads Up for its therapeutic workshops and dementia services are unable to do so. The next nearest similar facility to Heads Up is in Yeovil.

When the minibus service is running, initially it will pick up people twice a week to take them to Heads Up and return them home at the end of the day, then expand to three times a week.

It is hoped that the route covered will extend from Wells to the Glastonbury, Street, Shepton Mallet, Evercreech and Cheddar areas. The minibus will be able to hold 12 people – a driver, a helper, and ten clients.

Wells Rotary has been a strong supporter of Heads Up since it was first established 11 years ago, and has adopted the procurement of the minibus as the club’s main community project for 2022/23.

“We’re trying to help Heads Up extend its outreach service,” said Mike Love of Wells Rotary, adding that by getting people to Heads Up it will also give their carers a day off.

Adrian Lawrence, another Wells Rotary member, said: “It’s one way that Rotary can help the local community.”

Bridget said: “I think it would give people a better quality of life, giving them something to look forward to knowing that someone is going to pick them up and bring them here. Just knowing someone cares – it makes a difference.”

To help fund the minibus and its ongoing operational costs, an Auction of Promises is being held as a black tie event at Wells Town Hall on March 3. Prizes are expected to include a dinner for ten at The Crown in Wells, a week’s sailing in the Mediterranean, and use of a villa in Cyprus for a week.

There will be a four-course dinner, entertainment from singer Tim Pitman, and a speech from Charlie Bigham. His Bigham’s company, which has a food production campus at Dulcote, has been a major sponsor of the minibus project.

To find out whether any more tickets to the event are available, contact Jane Coombes at Heads Up. Email or call 01749 670667.

Jane is also the person to contact to find out more about becoming a volunteer driver for the minibus. It is hoped that ten people can be recruited to launch the service, with the pool eventually expanding to 20.

Encouraging people to sign up as drivers, Adrian further commented: “Volunteers will be helping to make a real difference to the lives of others within our community.”

No previous experience of driving a minibus is required as full training will be given, but a full driving licence is necessary. Drivers would be asked to cover a three-hour round trip once or twice a month with plenty of flexibility in scheduling the roster.