Support helps West Lochaber Hospital Transport Project look to the future

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After a challenging year for the West Lochaber Hospital Transport Project with uncertainty about the future of the service, support from the Peregrine Ardnamurchan Charitable Trust (PACT) and Urram mean this valuable service will not just continue but is now looking to expand, writes Nic Goddard.

The project, which provides transport for residents of Ardnamurchan, Ardgour, Moidart, Morvern and Sunart to attend hospital appointments at the Belford and Raigmore hospitals, and provides volunteering opportunities for drivers, had been facing an end due to a lack of funding support.

This much-needed service, which enabled residents to attend appointments
when the lack of public transport links in their area often necessitated overnight stays away from home, has provided more than 200 journeys for patients in the last two years.

Project co-ordinator Jane Gaze told us: ‘We previously leased a car through Loch Shiel Garage in Acharacle but when the Scottish Government grant ran out this was not sustainable.

‘Happily, PACT has generously provided funding to purchase the vehicle recognising the wide reaching benefits for residents in our communities and their support is invaluable.’

The project has also been adopted by Urram, a charity working to provide the best possible care for residents of the peninsulas.

Urram works with NHS Highland, Highland Hospice, Highland Council and other partners to deliver care services and the transport project will be integrated into this.

Urram chairman James Hilder explained: ‘We are delighted to be able to continue the
Hospital Transport Service as it is a perfect fit for Urram, which recently launched its Helping Hands befriending service.

‘We know that not everyone locally has friends or family who can help out, so we hope folk will volunteer to do a hospital ‘run’ or provide a bit of company to folk feeling a bit isolated.’

Ms Gaze added: ‘We are delighted to announce that we have also received support from MOWI thanks to the support of its local team nominating us for an award, and this will help us to have use of a second car to increase the service even further.

‘Unfortunately we are struggling to meet all requests as we need more volunteer drivers. If you enjoy driving and the company of other people we’d love to hear from you about volunteering for the project, or Helping Hands.’

You can also contact the service through the West Lochaber Hospital Transport Project and Urram Facebook pages or on 07949 216325.