Written by Kylie Barton, Assistant Manager Eastleigh Young Carers Project
Community transport is the heart of One Community,linking the vulnerable and elderly to their community and the services that society has on offer for them.Every day our busses go out right across the Borough to help people get from A to B who wouldn’t be able to get out and about otherwise. What is more astounding than that however, is that those very passengers are always the first to give back – moreover; they love to do it!
Every year passengers of One Community Transport are the single biggest group to donate a whole range of goods for our Young Carers project at Christmas time. Project staff, families, and the children themselves are constantly overwhelmed year on year at the generosity and thoughtfulness of this group of people, who themselves are also in need. This year passengers have donated 5 huge moving boxes, and countless carrier bags worth of toiletries, candles, chocolates, treats, and other edible delights for the team to make up special Christmas hampers for the families attending the annual Young Carers Christmas Party, this year to be held at Pavilion on the Park in Eastleigh.
The initiative which is led by One Community Transport driver Debbie Moore, started back in 2014. It started with a request for selection boxes to hand out to all of the Young Carers and their siblings at the Christmas celebrations, which was a resounding success with over 200 selection boxes donated in 2015. This year, the team tried to do something different by expanding the remit, and the transport passengers were super excited to get shopping! Manager of the Family Carers Service, Joanne Miles said:
Each year we think they couldn’t possibly outdo themselves, and every year they do! The spirit of these wonderful people is what Christmas is all about – sharing what you have even if what you have isn’t a lot. The whole thing from start to finish perfectly encompasses what community, and One Community is about, and it really does have such a positive impact on all of the families we work with. For so many of our families Christmas is a tricky time, what with the children off school and the stresses that brings when there is a cared for person in the home, a little time out and a treat makes all the difference. And the passengers of One Community Transport help us make that a reality every year”.
The spirit of Christmas doesn’t end there for Debbie either, as this year she is volunteering her time on the big day itself to run the bus to get vulnerable and isolated people to the Salvation Army Christmas dinner. Without her, these people would face the holiday season alone, but with the help of Community transport and one very dedicated, kind-hearted driver they will enjoy a hot meal and some great company with those in a similar situation.
So you see, Community Transport is really the gift that keeps on giving in both directions – to the passengers, and from them. It is important to recognise such generosity and positivity in times of adversity, and it is also good to highlight that the true spirit of Christmas is very much alive and well.