Who we are!
The Volunteer Drivers Service is part of Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale Circle, a social enterprise which works to reduce social isolation amongst older people.
The Volunteer Drivers Service does exactly what is says on the tin, DBS Checked and vetted volunteers drive as a service, taking older people and vulnerable adults who can't or struggle to use public transport to hospital and doctors appointments, shopping and social events. Pre-Covid the service completed around 1500 trips every month.
Post Covid we have had to repurpose the service to support the local Covid Response Centres by collecting and delivering prescriptions, doing emergency shopping runs, delivering vital PPE to doctors and care settings, as well as distributing craft packs to help keep older people entertained and stimulated during lockdown.
We have recently been able to reintroduce passenger transport as hospital appointments are reactivated.
We have worked hard to develop our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System to be as efficient as possible. but to take the service onto the next level we need to progress to a 'Ride Hailing' system along the lines of what companies such as Uber, Grab, Yandex use.
We must use technology to help the most vulnerable in our society.
The cornerstone of the service is the health, wellbeing and safety of our passengers and volunteers. One of the issues flagged up is a proportion of the people who access the HMR Circle Volunteer Drivers Service have short term memory issues or conditions such as low level dementia. By using a 'Ride Hailing' app the passenger can see what sort of car they will be driving in, who the driver is and a portion of the number plate.
The passenger will also be able to see how far away the car is from picking them up. This will be a huge aid as a large number of the passengers are anxious before a hospital visit and can be very concerned if they think the Volunteer Driver is going to be late.
Even if the passenger doesn't have a smartphone a simple call to the office and the Volunteer Drivers Service admin team and have a quick look at the system to check the location of the 'car' and advise the passenger accordingly.
On the flip side a venue or a concerned relative may call asking if a passenger is nearby. This new system will allow us to help with this information, whilst remaining fully GDPR compliant.
Currently our service requires 4 working days notice to book a journey. With a 'Rail Hailing' app we could introduce an on demand responsive service to deal with late appointment changes, emergency prescription collection or simply a surprise social event. As well as an on demand service it will mean passenger can future book trips 24/7 instead of at present when it is only during office hours.
We have sourced the software and training required to take the 'VDS' to the next level, future proof what we do, give the best possible service to the Members and support our amazing Volunteer Drivers.
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