Lifeline appeal to fund new bus for elderly

Volunteers and members at the Wednesday Activity Club at Claremont First Step Community Centre are in desperate need of a new van
Volunteers and members at the Wednesday Activity Club at Claremont First Step Community Centre are in desperate need of a new van
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A Blackpool charity is appealing for help to replace its worn out minibus which is a lifeline for lonely elderly residents.

The Claremont First Step Centre on Dickson Road has been forced to scrap its vehicle which was used to bring old folk from around the Fylde to its social events.

I come home from the club & I don’t see a soul until Wednesday. It’s lonely

It is hoping big-hearted donors will come forward to help raise the £6,000 needed for a replacement second-hand bus.

For some people a visit to the centre is the only time they meet their friends.

Doreen Smith, 79, of Chatsworth Avenue, Fleetwood, said: “I go to the luncheon club on a Friday with my friend June who is 84 and it is the only time we meet our friends.

“There is nothing like this in Fleetwood, and without the minbus we are having to pay for taxis.

“The bus is a lifeline for us.

“Once I come home from the club, I don’t see a soul until Wednesday and you get very lonely when you get older.

“And I would think there are lots of other elderly people in the same position, so I hope someone will help us get a new minibus.”

The bus is used to bring people to social clubs at the centre on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays as well as for trips out.

Cathy Adams, finance officer at the First Step Centre, said; “We need about £6,000 for another second-hand minibus.

“Without it, it means some of our members who are socially isolated are finding it very difficult to get here. They are having to pay for taxis, but for elderly folk it is a lot of money.

“Some people have already dropped out.

“I don’t think people realise the impact of being socially isolated, and how lonely some people are.

“One of our ladies is 102 and she can’t get here unless her family can bring her.”

Volunteer Jacky Hardcastle, 28, of Stratford Place, near Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, said: “It’s like a family here but without the minibus a lot of people can’t access the centre.”

If the centre can get another minibus, it will also need more volunteer drivers.

Anyone who can help, can contact Cathy or chief officer Joe Shepherd on 299306.