Westbury and District Link Scheme, which provides services to help poor, sick, elderly and disabled people, in Westbury and the parishes of Dilton Marsh, Chapmanslade and Heywood and Hawkeridge, has continued to help local people during the pandemic.
The group was registered as a charity on 1st August 1997 and help is provided to people in need primarily by the provision of transport to medical appointments at GP surgeries and hospitals and also by providing help with shopping and the other essentials of daily life.
The charity recruits two main types of volunteers to undertake this work, telephone coordinators who man the charity’s helpline to take calls from those needing help and drivers, who give their time to drive clients to their appointments.
The charity has a management committee comprised of a Chair and Vice Chair, a Treasurer and a Secretary and, currently, five other volunteers.
The committee normally meets quarterly and in October each year a public Annual General Meeting is held at which annual accounts and reports of activity are presented and officers and members of the committee are elected for the following year.
The local Link scheme reports, “Covid has interrupted our ability to hold such meetings. It has also meant that a substantial number of our volunteers have not been available to help because, by virtue of their age, they are at particular risk from Covid. In normal times we can call on over 30 volunteers to drive clients but, at present, we have only 16 volunteers available to drive.
“During the first lockdown, many of our volunteers, including those unable to drive, undertook between them, to telephone some of our most vulnerable clients on a weekly basis to provide a point of contact and support. Feedback tells us this was greatly appreciated.
“In the last full year, we undertook 1,989 trips including 648 to White Horse Health Centre, 354 to Bath RUH, 150 to Salisbury District Hospital and 218 shopping trips.
“The work of the charity is supported only by voluntary donations made by the clients. Our costs are mainly expenses paid to our volunteers to compensate them for the use of their private cars and telephone and insurance costs. We have also provided face masks for our drivers to protect both them and our clients. Our last audited accounts show total expenditure of £17,035 and income of £16,433, a loss of £602. Fortunately, in the previous year, we had a surplus of £1,236
“Westbury and District Link Scheme is rightly proud of the help it has provided to vulnerable people in our area, particularly in these difficult times and looks forward to the return of more normal times to allow us to continue our work for local people in need.
“If you would like to volunteer with us please call our helpline on 01373 859669 between 0900 and 1300 Monday to Friday.”