Vital transport service for elderly people in Arun gets charity status

Arun Community Transport becomes a registered charity. Lou Stillwell, left and Irene Trice. Photo by Derek Martin Photography
Arun Community Transport becomes a registered charity. Lou Stillwell, left and Irene Trice. Photo by Derek Martin Photography

A community transport service that rose from the ashes of a previous group has been given charitable status.

The Arun Community Transport team, based in Dove Lodge community centre in Beach Road, Littlehampton, have celebrated the news which was announced at the end of May, having applied in March.

Treasurer Linda Kimber, from Littlehampton, said she was ‘absolutely delighted’.

She said: “We are making an immense difference to people’s lives. We are taking them shopping, taking them to the hospital, to doctor’s appointments – but this is the recognition. We are here to stay and we are serious about what we are doing.”

The charity came about after the collapse of Arun Coordinated Community Transport. In June 2017, the service merged with Bognor-based Sammy Community Transport but, about a year later, was liquidated, leaving dozens of vulnerable and elderly people who relied on the service stranded.

After it closed, volunteers worked around the clock to keep the vital lifeline going.

Chichester-based business Southern Mobility stepped in and set up a fundraiser, and enough money was raised to set up the current service.

In November last year, ACT had 15 volunteer drivers and more than 100 clients, many of whom were taken on from ACCT. But now, Linda said they had 23 volunteer drivers and 580 clients, with around 30 being added to their list each month.

She said their next step would be to reach out to supermarkets for funding.

They have also taken on a paid member of staff to run their office, and will upgrade their computer systems.

To people considering becoming a volunteer driver, she said: “It is great fun, and a lot of our customers are very funny and generous.

“Some people struggle to get out of their houses at all so we are an absolute lifeline for them.”

To volunteer or become a client, call ACT on 01903 792110.