A lift in life

26 July 2013

THE original initiative came from a businessman, Laurence Brodley, to provide specially adapted minibuses to transport elderly people round their part of the Portsmouth area. With the help of friends and contacts, he raised enough money to start the ICANGO scheme, which now runs three such minibuses, the largest of which has 16 seats.

From early on, however, they had the problem where to park them, and the then Vicar of St Faith's, in Lee-on-Solent, offered the church car park. The scheme turned into a partnership between St Faith's and Gosport Voluntary Action, and the Vicar's wife became the organiser.

They now have 24 qualified volunteer drivers, who can take people shopping, to clinical appointments and lunch clubs, on trips to garden centres and other social outings, and to church on Sundays. The minibuses are also used on occasion for group outings, both from the church and other societies.

The drivers make about 40 journeys a month, and provide transport not only for the elderly and disabled, but also for parents with young children, or in isolated areas with little public transport. Those who can contribute to meeting the costs do so, but fund-raising is always a need.

The parish administrator, Andrew Munro, tells me that St Faith's is now in an interregnum. Perhaps because the vicarage is in the process of being demolished and rebuilt, they received only four applications for the incumbency, and had the courage to turn them all down as not suitable. The fact that they can keep the minibus scheme running so well, together with all the other activities of a lively church, makes it clear that they need the right person as their Vicar. They will keep on trying.

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