Community Minibus Association helps to keep older people living independently in West Sussex
Many people rely on their own cars or public transport to get around, but when this is not an option it can be difficult to do daily activities like shopping and seeing friends.
This is why many people in West Sussex rely on the Community Minibus Association West Sussex, a charity providing door to door transport for people unable to drive or reasonably use public transport.
Since his retirement for medical reasons, Upper Beeding resident Spencer Gee has been using the volunteer-run service from Steyning for about ten years with his wife June, who he has been married to for more than 55 years.
Spencer said: “Without this tremendous support from the charity, I would have to rely on less frequent trips helped by my sons, who also have their own work and family commitments.
“The trips with the minibus help me to maintain my independence and to meet other people.”
Spencer enjoyed a career all across the world, starting in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey and stretching as far afield as the USA, China and elsewhere in Asia and Europe. Throughout this, his home base has always been in the UK and for the last 50 years he has lived in Upper Beeding.
His career included working on aircraft, providing flight simulators for famous aircraft including Concorde, and as a designer and draughtsman in the car industry.
Spencer is very fond of his trips with the community minibus. Many of the passengers are retired, some of them living on their own and relying on the charity’s transport to help them with their weekly shopping.
Spencer said: “The volunteer drivers and passenger escorts that work for the charity are wonderful, they help you carry shopping to your front door, they are always so cheerful.
“Without the support and energy of these volunteers, who give up their own time and devote it to the passengers, my life would be more restricted. I have been able to make many new friends, and meet people on a regular basis.”
The charity was presented with the Queens Award for Voluntary service in 2016. It is always looking for new volunteers as well as new passengers, currently there are also vacancies in senior positions at management and trustee level.