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NEWSLETTER No 61 AUTUMN - September 2012

Dear Members,

Well have now pretty well passed through what passes for summer. I heard someone recently say, “I love an English summer. It’s my favourite day of the year!” As predicted, we did pay for the long dry spell with the wettest April to June since records began in 1910.

STAFF

We seem to be having a run of really bad luck lately. Superstition says “bad things come in threes” but for us and our staff it has been much worse. We lost Mick for 5 weeks, then Ann for 2 weeks, Mick again for 2 weeks, and must now survive without Kevin for several months and Martin for a possible 6 weeks. All have or are making good recoveries which is encouraging and welcome.

Please understand though, that with a pool of 7 drivers this means that one is usually on holiday especially during the summer months. So losing another driver (let alone 2) through long term sickness does put a considerable strain on an already stretched service.

On a positive note, we have had Maureen recently join us as a part-time driver. She has completed her training and induction and helps us out about 2-3 days per week, when we need the extra help. Some of the agency drivers we have used have also been very good, especially Barrington, Brian and Peter, but there really is no substitute for our own team and Maureen has blended in really well.

2 NEW BUSES

It has not all been bad luck however. We have been extremely fortunate and owe a huge debt of gratitude to the former Cordova Day Centre in Dunstable. This was a charity to benefit the older people of the town, which closed down in 2011 and sold its large property on West Street. When charities close they must dispose of their assets to benefit other charities, and the Trustees of Cordova very kindly selected South Beds Dial-a-Ride to receive a substantial donation, which has resulted in us being able to replace 2 of our older buses. This gift really came at an excellent time for us as we had already taken one old bus off the road after it failed its MoT in April so we have been one down since then. The new buses are both named “Spirit of Cordova” to recognise their extraordinary gift.

DAY TRIPS

We regret we have not been able to run day trips this summer due to staff shortages and not having any spare capacity. We usually have a number of day centres and therapy groups taking a summer break to give us more time, but this does not seem to be happening this year either, just to make things even trickier!

“CONFIRM THE AFTERNOON BEFORE”

You will have noticed, as we try to cram in more journeys, that when you phone in to make a journey “request”, we then often ask you to confirm the afternoon before that you are still travelling, when we can advise you of the availability of the journey and the pick up time. On some occasions it may be that we simply have more requests than we have seats available, and we beg your understanding as we try to make the most of the resources we have. Our service cannot be guaranteed. We have a limit.

LETTING YOU DOWN?

We have performed a record 35,000 (up from 33,000) journeys of all types in the past 12 months so are carrying more people than ever before, but it still does not seem to be enough. Demand for our service is forever increasing with new members joining us all the time, all asking for journeys.

In order to be as fair as possible to everyone, old and new members alike, we are making difficult decisions on a daily basis on who we can carry, and who we cannot help on that day. We try to prioritise for medical appointments, therapy centres, lunch clubs and those who book early. We also try to prioritise where we can help many people rather than just one or a few.

Some of your journeys can only happen on the day requested. However, supermarkets are open all day, every day, so we ask for you to try to be flexible if we offer you an alternative.

The motto to remember is “BOOK EARLY”, and please try to travel in the afternoon!

Compiled by Dave Barratt – Coordinator

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