A DESPERATE plea for volunteer drivers to take people to hospital is being made by a Tavistock charity, which is having to turn people in need away.

Tavistock Area Support Services (TASS) is struggling to keep up with demand for its free transport service which takes elderly or disabled people, who are unable to use public transport, to doctor’s appointments, hospital appointments or other medical arrangements.

The charity is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of older people and those with disabilities in Tavistock.

It currently has a hardcore team of volunteer drivers who between them work all day, every day to take people to appointments but demand for the service is so high that it unfortunately has to regularly turn people away.

TASS is also looking for volunteers to help drive its four minibuses, which pick people up from their homes and brings them to the charity’s base at The Anchorage Centre for events or for its regular outings.

TASS treasurer and trustee Gail Reed said: ‘We are inundated all the time with people needing the service, especially with an ageing community in Tavistock. We are currently relying on a team of five or six volunteer drivers running people to hospital all day, every day but the service is needed more and more and it’s horrible that we are having to turn people away.

‘We are delivering and fulfilling most of our requirements but we are struggling with the demand. When we have to turn people away, they then have to sort out their own transport, which is usually a taxi which can be very expensive.’

Gail said the drivers who volunteer find it very rewarding and form a rapport with their clients.

‘Some of our drivers love it and do it three or four times a week,’ she said. ‘We have widows and widowers who volunteer to get them out of the house. The volunteers get just as much out of it as the clients do.

‘Anyone can do it and full training and support is given. Hospital drivers use their own cars and have their expenses covered. They can volunteer as much or as little time as they like — it’s totally up to them.’

There is an age limit and a licence requirement in order to volunteer to drive one of TASS’s four, 15-seater minibuses but again, full training and support will be given. The charity also has a Citroen Berlingo vehicle that can accommodate wheelchair users.

Anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a volunteer driver can contact TASS on 01822 616958, email [email protected] or pop in to the TASS reception desk at The Anchorage Centre next to Tavistock Bus Station.