It’s nearly 16 miles from Pateley Bridge to the covid vaccination centre at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate.
So for rural communities in the Nidderdale and Washburn valleys with limited public transport and a high proportion of older people, getting there can be difficult.
Nidderdale Plus community hub in Pateley Bridge is playing a key role in solving this and helping the government achieve its aim of vaccinating the over 80s as soon as possible.
Helen Flynn, the executive director of Nidderdale Plus, a charity that works in partnership with local authorities to provide services to the community, told the Stray Ferret:
“For some people, the prospect of travelling to and from Harrogate for their appointment could be daunting.
“There are those who live on their own; some have stopped driving and a number may not have a member of a family bubble to accompany them to and from the vaccination centre.”
With Nidderdale and the Washburn Valley covering half of the total land area of the Harrogate district, a logistical issue had to be addressed.
It was rapidly solved when Nidderdale Plus called on assistance from Jill Quinn, chief executive of Dementia Forward, to secure the use of a mini-bus that had not been used for some time because of covid restrictions. Ms Flynn said:
The vehicle, with its volunteer drivers, makes regular journeys from Nidderdale and the Washburn Valley to Harrogate, collecting people en-route.
To ensure social distancing is maintained, the minibus takes a maximum of three people at a time for vaccination, and a rigorous cleaning regime involving anti-bacterial ‘fogging’ of all surfaces is carried out after each use.
Ms Flynn added:
“Jill lives in Pateley Bridge and was happy to help.
“Our aim is to ensure that all people aged 80 and above living in this area have no reason to worry, either about getting to and from Harrogate or their vaccination.
“As the vaccination programme progresses to target different age groups, the minibus will remain in use to help those aged 70 and above in the Nidderdale and Washburn valleys and others seeking assistance.”
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Bryan Ayers, who lives in Hampsthwaite, has already used the service. He said:
“The transport service for my covid vaccination was magnificent, I don’t know what I would do without the help as I do not drive myself and I have no relatives who can help me.
“When I got to the site it was really well organised both with clinic staff and the volunteers were very good, I hardly had to wait any time at all.”
Mr Ayers added:
“My driver was very friendly and just waited for me, I could not have asked for a better service. I have had no side effects of the vaccine at all so far.”