A COMMUNITY car scheme is being put at risk due to a lack of volunteer drivers.

The service run by South East Dorset Community Accessible Transport (SEDCAT) helps people living in the Bournemouth area who are unable to drive themselves or use public transport.

Volunteer drivers, using their own cars, run a door-to-door service for members who need to visit their GP, dentist, hairdresser, or attend a club.

However, the charity, which runs three transport projects in the Bournemouth and surrounding area, says it is not getting volunteers from West Howe, Bear Cross, Bearwood, and Kinson.

Suzanne Leighton, organisation manager at SEDCAT, said this was putting “a real strain on the service”.

She said: “These are areas with a high percentage of elderly and low income families who tend to need the most help, and we need to be able to match the service user with a volunteer who lives close by to avoid extra costs.

“We don’t like having to turn people down, but we have and are having to do this more and more in these areas where drivers are scarce.”

She continued: “Often the alternative is too expensive and people are missing out on activities which help to avoid loneliness and isolation, or they are delaying GP appointments.

“This is worrying for services like this, which rely on volunteer help as the situation seems to be getting noticeably worse.”

Suzanne said becoming a community car driver was a “very flexible way of helping the community” as volunteers can fit the work around their own commitments.

Volunteers must have their own vehicle, and expenses are paid at 45p per mile.

SEDCAT runs a number of other services including the BAT bus, which provides a door-to-door shopping service in the Bournemouth area.

Last year, it launched a similar minibus service in areas of Wimborne and Ferndown as part of a six-month pilot scheme.

The charity also provides wheelchairs and electric scooters for hire at Castlepoint and Boscombe’s Sovereign Shopping Centre as part of the Shopmobility scheme.

It also has a fully-accessible minivan for wheelchair users to hire.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the community car scheme in the BH10 and BH11 areas can email the charity at info@sedcat.org.uk or call 01202 534027.