By Colin MacGillivray
Lancefield and Romsey neighbourhood houses celebrated with the community last week as they launched ShareRide, the latest project of their transport initiative Community Driven.
The neighbourhood houses collaborated to establish Community Driven in 2019, with volunteer drivers ferrying people unable to drive themselves to and from health appointments on weekdays.
The ShareRide program will extend the service by using a people-mover vehicle, transporting users from Lancefield and Romsey to towns such as Kilmore, Kyneton and Sunbury on a set weekly schedule.
Bendigo Bank supported the program, providing $16,500 a year for three years to lease the vehicle. The State Government, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Zonta Club of Kyneton also supported the project.
Lancefield Neighbourhood House coordinator Vivien Philpotts said she was thrilled the project was up and running after community surveys showed a need for increased transport options.
“It came out of a study that Romsey and Lancefield neighbourhood houses were part of, because we already did some community transport for people on an ad hoc basis,” she said.
“We had our health transport service, but with this you can go to Kilmore and get your shopping done and also do a water aerobics class or go for a swim – things you can’t do in Romsey or Lancefield.
“It might be that you can’t drive or your car is out of action, but if you don’t have transport here, you’re very isolated.
“It supports people’s physical and mental health to get out and about. Even if it’s just a temporary thing and you’re without a car for a month, it can be really debilitating. This will allow people to still be able to at least go shopping, do an activity or visit a friend.”
The neighbourhood houses launched the service during their Feed It Forward community lunch in Lancefield on Tuesday.
Ms Philpotts said it was an excellent way to let people know about the service.
“We do the lunches once a month to bring the community together for a meal. Hopefully some of the people here might end up using the service,” she said.
Bendigo Bank Romsey and Lancefield branch manager Angela Dickins said she was relatively new to the area but excited to help support a vital community initiative.
“When I came into town I thought this was something we really needed, so it was exciting to hear that it was already in the works,” she said.
“I had a phone call the other day from a customer who was upset because she couldn’t get to the bank. In the end I picked her up and took her into town, but something like this is a great initiative.
“This is what we’re here for – 50 per cent of our profits go back into the community and to be able to do something like this when there is such a need is unreal. We’re providing just under $50,000 in total, which is pretty exciting.”
People can visit www.communitydriven.org.au or call Lancefield Neighbourhood House on 5429 6724 or Romsey Neighbourhood House on 5429 1214 to learn more about the health transport and ShareRide services and make bookings. People can also email email@example.com.
Payment can be made online or over the phone via credit card. The health transport service operates on a suggested dollar contribution based on distance driven, while the ShareRide service will have set prices.