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Borders Community Transport - Vulnerable/Isolated

by Borders Community Transport in Duns, Scotland, United Kingdom

We did it
On 7th October 2020 we successfully raised £579 ( + est. £36.25 Gift Aid ) with 21 supporters in 42 days

To provide accessible transport to older, disabled & disadvantaged people who have no other means of transport, helping to reduce isolation.

by Borders Community Transport in Duns, Scotland, United Kingdom

Borders Community Transport Services (BCTS) is a community transport (CT) service operated by Bavs as a partnership with The Bridge (Gala, Teviot & Tweed Wheels) & the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) providing essential, affordable and safe transport for vulnerable people resident in the Scottish Borders who cannot access transport for reasons of age, health, disability, rurality or poverty.

For people in Scottish Borders who need accessible transport, BCTS is the often the only option available.
This may be due to the lack of family support, specialised need or lack of public transport due to the rural nature of the area.
This means many vulnerable people who live alone, suffer considerable isolation with limited access to amenities and services.

Bavs is an independent charity providing development support for community and voluntary activity in Berwickshire area of the Scottish Borders.

Between 1st April 2019 - 31st March 2020 we covered approximately 215,000 miles and undertook 35,772 passenger journeys!
To put that into perspective the moon is an average of 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away from earth!

 We require funds to support our core operations or we will cease to function within a very short time.

Our annual core operating costs are:
Salaries - £ 35,000
Rent - £3,900
Phone lines - £1,500
Computer System - £5,000
Bus Maintenance - £4,500

 We work in partnership with Berwickshire Wheels, Gala Wheels, Teviot Wheels, Tweed Wheels and supported by the Royal Voluntary Service. Our transport requires the use of accessible minibuses with lifts that can load electric wheelchairs and removable seats to accommodate multiple walking frames.

We currently have:
14 Wheelchair accessible minibuses
2 cars - one is a Nissan Leaf
10 volunteer drivers who use their own cars.

 These are driven by an enthusiastic group of volunteer drivers who gave roughly 16,500 hours of their time last year!

- Day trip supported by Community Transport

We provide group transport collecting older clients from their homes and conveying them to social centres organised by the Royal Voluntary Service and village halls, care home days out trips and social gatherings. 

However, our primary work is running a door to door service for clients to attend appointments and maintain their independence in the following areas:

1. Hospital and Hospital Visiting
2. GP
3. Dental
4. Shopping
5. Social
6. Workplace
 7. Religious

We provide door to door transport to hospitals and health centres for appointments or to visit loved ones, shops for essential shopping and social and family gatherings which helps older people to maintain independence and well-being.
The aim of the service is to improve accessible inclusive transport across the Scottish Borders area allowing people with health or mobility problems to go out when, where and with whom they wish. It enables people to adopt a more independent lifestyle and play a more active role in community affairs.

Many of our clients live in remote rural areas throughout the Scottish Borders with no or very limited access to public transport. It is a remote rural area of approx. 115,000 people and is 4,732 km².

- 1 Regional Hospital
- 24 GP Surgeries
- 19 Dental Practices
- 22 Village Halls

 Due to the limited public transport older people rely on CT to access essential services as well as to be active in local communities.  All of our clients have no access to suitable alternative transport, many are vulnerable for various reasons and already experience complex social barriers and isolation. Half of them have no known family or other support. We provide an essential service to help bridge that gap to make sure nobody feels isolated and can live their best life.


At the moment, the majority of our clients are in the high-risk category and/or shielding due to coronavirus. We now offer shopping deliveries, medicine collection and care calling as well as transport to essential healthcare appointments. People who are at high risk and/or shielding are placing orders via telephone to local shops and BCTS are working closely with these shops to coordinate and deliver to the most vulnerable. We are also undertaking prescription pickups/deliveries and are providing support to a number of local food banks. The NHS have started using our service to provide urgent discharges from Borders General Hospital and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Hospital. We are continuing to provide a safe and reliable service for our clients to Hospital and GP appointments during this difficult time and giving our clients regular care calls to reduce isolation during COVID 19. We have over 1100 registered users, many of which would have no other means of transport. 

- One of our drivers in full PPE.

Our staff negotiate changes to appointment times and dates when clients have anxiety or get confused to ensure transport is available. In addition, we identify individuals who need additional support and signpost to other services. For example, a driver noted concerns when he arrived to pick up a client. He reported back to us and we contacted adult social services. The client now has a full care package available and continuous help.

Our aim to make sure that every older/disabled person has access to transport when they need it. We view social activity and seeing family as a right and as important as support that enables people to live well. We now face a huge service transition as many of those we support will want us to bring services to them, and may need support to regain confidence to re-join social activities when this is possible.

 Funding will enable us to continue developing new support services working closely with shops, pharmacies and volunteer groups etc. despite not generating income to cover service costs. Our staff are delivering essentials and calling to maintain social connections for these people while knowing we may not be running after next month. We want to ensure these services are maintained during this difficult time.

- Vehicle parked at regional hospital

The service relieves anxiety around transport for vulnerable people and helps people to retain their independence and remain in their own homes reducing the need for hospital admissions and residential care

BCTS was voted Scottish ‘Accessibility Project of the Year” 2016 winning against nominations including Glasgow Central Station and Edinburgh Airport.

National research evidences the value to Health and Wellbeing from CT. Age Scotland has recently released research stating CT for older people is:
1. Enabling independent living.
2. Facilitating social interaction.
3. Enabling affordable trips for voluntary and community groups.
4. Supporting volunteering and the voluntary sector.
5. Contributing to individuals’ wellbeing.
 6. Contributing to individuals’ health.

Client Survey results & testimonials

Our CT service user surveys show that up to 96% of clients believe the service supports their health and well-being. Feedback from users clearly shows the role of CT in reducing inequalities and supporting strong, resilient and supportive communities:


  • “I use the service to get me to my podiatry appointment at Kelso. The service saves me from asking friends to take me and makes me feel independent. The service I receive is first class, we are lucky to have it. Special thanks to the drivers, we would be lost without you.”
  • “Went to a concert where my wife was singing. This service allowed me to recover some of my freedom lost when I gave up driving.”
  • “As my husband can neither drive nor walk very far, he relies on this transport.”
  • “When his wife cannot provide this, your service is an invaluable help. We are most grateful.”
  • “It let me get out of my house, I am trapped most of the time as my wife cannot push it out of the door as there are two high steps. The best aspect was having someone to get me out of the house and back in safely. One of the minibuses was rather old and needs replaced.” 
  • “It was a great boost to have a strong person get my husband out and in from the house in his wheelchair.”


We would be extremely grateful as would all of our clients for any help received. This service means so much to many people and they would be lost without it. We would love to continue to support the most vulnerable within our communities.

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