Portishead Porters is celebrating its Silver Jubilee in March 2018 in what is a wonderful achievement.
Portishead’s Voluntary Hospital car service, which was set up in 1993, takes residents from the town to their hospital appointments in the Greater Bristol and North Somerset area.
The closure of Ham Green Hospital in the early 90s meant that local people were then obliged to travel further to hospitals, such as at Southmead and Frenchay and the public transport links to these hospitals proved difficult for many.
Nowadays, the growing number of older people with mobility problems or mothers with young children but without a car certainly find the service very useful. Increases in fuel costs together with parking problems and other associated charges have also encouraged more people to use Portishead Porters.
“The Porters” is run entirely by volunteers, using their own vehicles, who collect patients from their homes and take them to their appointment.
The driver then waits, if the appointment is expected to be around 2 hours, or leaves and returns if the appointment is longer, and takes the patient home. The only cost to the patient is a mileage charge to cover the running costs of the car.
The most frequent destinations are Southmead, BRI and the Eye hospital. However transport is also provided further afield to Weston General hospital, Emersons Green NHS Treatment Centre, Cossham hospital and South Bristol Community hospital at Hengrove.
In addition, less frequent requests are made for various consulting rooms, the Spire and Chesterfield hospitals, all in the Clifton area, and even an outpost of the Eye hospital sited in Morrisons’ car park at Cribbs Causeway.
On average, 40 requests are received each week, with more than 2,000 requests being received each year. Since being formed in March 1993, Portishead Porters have transported more than 40,000 patients to their appointments.
There is always a need for more volunteer drivers, however, so if you have your own car and can spare a few hours a week, contact Vera Sanders on 01275 814002 to find out more.
And what does the future hold for “The Porters?”
Ray Shields, the only person left of the original committee that set up the Porters 25 years ago, said: “We shall carry on for as long as we are needed, that is until such time as there is regular public transport between Portishead and some of the hospitals.
“As this still seems highly unlikely in the foreseeable future we expect to be around for a long time – perhaps for another twenty five years!”
Portishead Porters is a voluntary organisation and depends on grants and donations to cover administration costs. For more information, contact the secretary John Allan on 01275 842016 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.