Dorset-based bus service Bus2Go is working to combat rural isolation this Christmas. Working in partnership with Dorset Community Transport (DCT), the organisation provides an all-inclusive, door-to-door transport service which enables everyone to get to Christmas celebrations regardless of age or mobility limitations.
This festive season has included various outings across the county and into Hampshire, including trips to garden centres, shopping malls and Lyrics and Laughter productions in the New Forest. The most recent excursion was a trip to Owermoigne Nurseries for a spot of last minute Christmas shopping, and culminating in a lunch for all those involved to share in the festive spirit.
Michael King, regular Bus2Go passenger said: “ I’ve had such a wonderful day – I’ve got a smile from ear to ear. The bus service is amazing – the service is always good, they pick me up from my front door. The DCT bus drivers are always very helpful and polite. I have nothing but good praise for them.
He continued: The service they provide is extremely important in rural areas where there is a lack of regular transport – it’s like a second life for me. I live on my own, and without the bus service I would just be sat inside watching the television alone. The service makes my life a lot easier and I get to stretch my legs, get out and about and enjoy myself and meet other lovely people. “
Margo Kirk, Bus2Go project leader, said: “Our Christmas Party outing to the New Forest was a long day, but DCT always cater for our needs and provides a flexible, empathetic service and walk passengers to the door. The DCT drivers make the passengers feel so special, it really gives them an extra boost.”
Many older people in England can find themselves lonely and isolated over the Christmas period. Dorset has an above average percentage of the population aged 65 years and above - 26% (109,000) compared with 17% in England & Wales.* This means that a high percentage of the county’s total population have a long standing illness or disability.
Aspects of living in the countryside present serious obstacles for elderly and disabled people. According to a recent report from Age UK, nearly one in four people aged 60 and over who live in rural parts of England say lack of public transport is the biggest challenge they face living in the countryside**, contributing to loneliness and isolation.
Working all year round, Bus2Go transports local people from Milborne St Andrew and surrounding villages on day trips to shopping centres, lunches, Garden Centres, Theatres and places of interest, including , the New Forest, Seaton Donkey Sanctuary, Swanage Steam Railway, Buckham Fair (Martin Clunes Farm) and Seaton Tramway.
Anna Whitty, CEO of ECT Charity, said: “The work that we do in Dorset, in partnership with local communities, is very important in making sure that people living in rural areas with no local bus service are able to get out, whether it is for shopping or socialising – the day to day activities that most of us take for granted. Our drivers will always go above and beyond, giving isolated people that extra boost of confidence.”
For more information on the Bus2Go service and how to book a journey, please firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Margo Kirk on her landline 01258 837749, or mobile 07917 298321. Alternatively, visit their Facebook page (Bus2Go Community Transport for Villages in the DT11 area) and/or follow them on Twitter (@bus2gonow).