Earlier this week I attended an event hosted by Lord Provost of Edinburgh celebrating 30 years of the community transport charity, Handicabs.
Handicabs was launched in 1982 to provide accessible transport for people with mobility challenges in Edinburgh and the Lothians and I have lodged a motion in Parliament welcoming the anniversary.
The service is a lifeline to those who use it, allowing them to remain independent in their own homes. It allows people to continue to access a range of services from shopping and leisure to medical appointments and to maintain a high quality of life.
Without the support that the service provides, many of the people who use it would be at risk of isolation and facing the prospect of residential or hospital care.
Today, the charity provides three main services:
- Dial-a-Ride – a door-to-door service to help people get out and about
- Dial-a-Bus – a regular service that picks up from home and takes people to local shopping centres
- Ambulance – a transfer service for patients and their escorts
All of the vehicles used by the charity are specially adapted to be able to accommodate people’s needs and in all the services passengers may be accompanied by an escort to assist them. In addition, the drivers are also there to help, ensuring that passengers get safely in to their destination and carrying any packages for them.
At the start of this Parliamentary session in 2011, I nominated Muriel Williams, Handicab’s Chairperson, as my local hero. Speaking to Muriel at the opening of the session, I was hugely impressed by her determination, through her involvement in organisations including Handicabs, to continue raising awareness of the barriers faced by disabled and elderly people.
In the future we will need more services such as Handicabs and community transport generally as the numbers of older people increases.
You can read an excellent history of the organisation, written by Alan Rees MBE, a founding member and former Chairman of the charity.
To find out more about the services and how they can be accessed, visit the Handicabs website here.