From Germany to Hertfordshire – Happy Birthday CVSBEH Community Car Scheme!
by Claudia Fleischmann
Community Transport Project Officer, CVSBEH Community Car Scheme
I would like to share the story of CVS Broxbourne and East Hert’s Community Car Scheme which will be celebrating its 5th birthday in August this year.
I moved to the UK from Germany in 2011 and I was hired by the CVS to set up a brand new car scheme for the district of East Hertfordshire in May 2012. East Herts is the biggest and most rural district in Hertfordshire with the attached challenges for transport.
To begin with, as I was completely new to the idea of Community Transport, I contacted all the schemes I could find in the surrounding areas and arranged to visit them. I wanted to learn how they go about their job. I am very grateful to the fantastic people I met and the advice they have given me (North Herts CVS, Royston Community Transport and others). I was welcomed with open doors and invaluable information from very experienced people. Without this support, the job would have been so much harder.
We also soon discovered the option of becoming CTA members and I have regularly used the helpline and other resources which has also been fantastic.
In August of 2012 we were ready to pick-up our first client and we slowly built up our volunteer base. It was a bit tricky to get the balance right as we had to advertise for drivers and clients at the same time, hoping that things somehow work themselves out, and they did.
The scheme continues to grow and we are now up to 33 dedicated volunteers and 350 clients with over 1,000 journeys already delivered this year (2017). The demand has grown exponentially over the past year and we are very pleased how well the scheme is doing and we are grateful to our volunteers for all the work that they do. We always remember: no volunteers = no Car Scheme.
I felt compelled to write this story because I won’t able to celebrate the Car Scheme’s 5th birthday personally as I will be moving back to Germany this summer. I am happy to say that I am leaving the Scheme in the trusted hands of my colleague Paula Moon who I first met when she was a volunteer driver for our Scheme and we employed her to work in the office. We also have a new office volunteer and from July we welcome on board a second volunteer driver turned employee, Diane Walukiewicz, who has been driving our clients for several years now.
I will be taking back to Germany lots of positive memories from my time being involved in Community Transport in the UK, working with enthusiastic volunteers and colleagues and making a little contribution to keeping our lovely East Herts clients mobile.
And, who knows, one day I might be starting a similar scheme somewhere in Germany.
But for now: HAPPY BIRTHDAY CVSBEH COMMUNITY CAR SCHEME!
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.