• Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations | Community Transport Christmas

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    • Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations | Community Transport Christmas
    • by Debbie Johnson
      Development Manager, PACTO

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    The Bus Buddies project is run by Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations (PACTO) with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. Bus Buddies are a team of volunteers that help people who need extra support to use public and community transport services in Pembrokeshire. The Bus Buddies service goes far beyond the traditional role of a community transport “passenger assistant” – we assist people on all kinds of transport services, from Dial-a-Ride to social car services, to conventional bus and taxi services. Bus Buddies helps people with severe and complex mobility needs – many of our passengers would previously have found it difficult or impossible to use community transport services (often due to the support they need before the journey or while out-and-about at their destination), let alone travel by bus.

    One of our passengers, Mr S, has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is unable to walk unaided, and needs crutches to mobilise. She is no longer able to drive and finds it difficult to go shopping as manoeuvring with crutches on buses and carrying shopping bags is very tricky.  She has had several operations on her knees, which has prevented her from going anywhere independently. She lost her husband very suddenly earlier in the year and this had meant that she has only recently started to want to see people other than family again and has lost touch with some friends.

    She was referred to PACTO’s Bus Buddies project, as she wanted to be able to get ‘out and about’ using public transport and to shop independently. She also wanted socialise further afield without relying on family/friends to take her.

    Mrs S was introduced to bus buddies and matched with a volunteer who supported her to undertake some Christmas shopping independently. The bus buddy volunteer accompanied her on the local bus into the main town where she was able to wander round the larger department stores looking at all the Christmas gifts/offers and undertake some Christmas shopping. The volunteer helped her carry her shopping bags around the shops and they even had time for a cuppa and a chat before returning home on the bus. Mrs S really enjoyed her day out and commented that she had never travelled into that particular town by public transport before. She also commented that she enjoyed viewing the surrounding countryside from the bus and she enjoyed spending time with the bus buddy volunteer.  By the end of the trip, they were both feeling in the Christmas spirit!

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