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Huntly Community Bus – continuing to support people during lockdown

Posted June 8th 2020 by Ciara

Before lockdown, the community minibus in Huntly was used by groups of people to get around the area and for trips and outings. Responding to the crisis it has developed new ways of working to help older people and isolated outlying communities and has developed new practices to keep people safe.

The bus now takes one person or one household to the shops. Helping people get from home to the supermarket in Huntly or from areas into Huntly to shop. Households from outlying communities having been shopping for each other, sending one person or household on the bus to the supermarket. During this pandemic the bus operates 4 days per week driven by Norman as a volunteer. He has organised the seats to maximise social distancing for him and for the passengers. He does one trip at a time for one person or household, waiting while they shop and then returning them home. The bus is then cleaned before the next trip.

People using the service are delighted with how it works. Some comments from the local social media pages include “a shout out to Norman for going out of his way today”. People have also phoned Debbie the volunteer organiser to say how “chuffed” they were to get out of the house and get the shopping for themselves and their neighbours and how difficult it would be without the bus.

The bus has also been used for hospital appointments, and to help people move to different facilities. Debbie Haefner, who organises the minibus bookings said “We are trying to take the pressure off the hospital transport so if there is a way we can help we do.”

The bus is available for anyone to use but the main customers are older people who don’t have access to their own mode of transport. The bus will collect them from their home, take them to their destination, and then drive them home again. The bus has become a vital service for those who are cut off in their rural communities. And for some people who are isolating alone it provides a much-needed source of human interaction as all social activities have now been put on hold.

The minibus is an entirely community-run venture – funded by donations and run by volunteers. But Debbie and her colleagues are keen for more to be done for local transport in the area by incorporating more routes over a larger area and cater to more people. ‘This crisis has highlighted how important this bus services is for rural residents so we really hope we can expand and help more people.’

For more information about the bus contact Debbie Haefner on 07380 893121.



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