Community vehicle trust upgrades

by Kent Caddick

A community vehicle trust, whose aim it is to help the elderly living in rural areas of Selwyn to keep mobile, is upgrading part of its growing vehicle fleet.

The Malvern Community Vehicle Trust was founded almost two years ago by local people who saw the lack of access to public transport as a hindrance to the elderly staying in their own homes and presenting difficulty for others without driver licences to get to hospital or doctor’s appointments.

Current chair and founding member Virginia Askin said the trust was set up in May 2015 to provide low cost transport for our rural community, which has a large geographical area. 

“This was to enable our elderly people and others, to stay in their own homes within their community for their own health and wellbeing. Transport issues often force people to move to the city, so if we can offer rides to the doctor in Darfield or hospital appointments in Christchurch, or shopping trips and rides to other social events, then we help to hold our community together.”

Mrs Askin said that in 2015 they attended a meeting in Timaru with Tony Henderson, who is a transport officer with Environment Canterbury, at which they met with members of an established vehicle trust in the region. 

“What we heard at this meeting was that the vehicle trusts were able to help communities stay together as they provided mobility for people who may have otherwise had to move.

“Coming home from the meeting we knew that we needed to establish one in the Malvern area.”

Initially the group worked with the Darfield Community Hub and were able to use the Rangiora Minibus Trust’s van to get people around. 

Through community grants the Malvern Community Vehicle Trust was also able to purchase a car and when the Rangiora minivan came up for sale, they bought that in late 2015.

                     Malvern Community Vehicle Trust chair Virginia Askin

Demand grew and in 2016 the trust bought a second car and has recently successfully applied for a grant to replace their ageing minibus.

“While we charge a nominal amount for using our service, we are a not-for-profit society and a registered charity so the charges basically cover our petrol costs and some maintenance,” Mrs Askin said.

“We are all volunteers, including our team of wonderful drivers, and we have been assisted by grants from COGs, Lotteries and our Malvern Community Board as well as ongoing grants from Environment Canterbury.

“The trust works alongside the Darfield Community Hub and other trusts in our community, including the Two Rivers Community Trust and the Malvern Health Trust who are sponsoring the transport of people to the Day Club in Darfield.”

Mrs Atkins said they want to raise the profile of the service.

“People who come across often say they had no idea this type of service was available so we would welcome hearing from people who would make use of it or may know of someone who would benefit from it.”