When I retired just over 14 years ago I thought I would volunteer for a local charity to try to give something back to the community.

I was taken on by Dial-a-Ride (DaR) as a driver for their then-smallest vehicle which could hold a wheelchair and up to three other passengers albeit a very tight squeeze. I drove one day a week along with a number of other volunteer drivers and was always very busy throughout my day.

The service was provided for individuals with mobility issues and included being picked up at home, taken to a desired destination, shopping, doctors, visiting a friend etc as well as the return trip and help with getting any shopping into the home. 

Unfortunately, along came Covid and of course everything came to a grinding halt. However, when the service resumed the number of local Wintonians wanting to use DaR has never returned to pre-Covid levels plus the county council also withdrew some of its subsidies such that those people with bus passes were no longer able to enjoy a discount on the cost of using the service.

You would think that with the original ‘Baby Boomers’ now in their 60s and 70s, there would be more demand for the service than ever but that hasn’t been the case which is probably just as well as Hampshire County Council has now decided that, from April 2025, they will be withdrawing all funding for DaR and the service, operated by Community First, will cease to exist.

It might not be quite so bad if the local taxi companies could pick up the slack, albeit at an extra cost to the normal fares, but I don’t believe there are many taxis that will be able to take a wheelchair and so those people who use wheelchairs will be totally disenfranchised by the withdrawal of funding to DaR which apparently amounts to less than one per cent of the so-called savings the county council hopes to make. A small thing but when combined with other issues you do wonder if Hampshire County Council really care for the people of Hampshire!

Tony Stephens,

The Pastures,

Kings Worthy

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