Success for TRIP after difficult times

TRIP Community Transport Association hoping its success will continue as it moves forward with its new befriending project.

IT HAS been a year of growth for TRIP Community Transport Association that is set to continue after battling back from a significant drop in passenger numbers in 2010.

The chairman of TRIP, Val Royle, addressed a packed hall at the Methodist Church for the charity’s annual meeting.

Those in attendance included town mayor Vernon Whitlock, East Devon District Councillors Stephanie Jones and John O’Leary, as well as town councillor and EDDC chairman Peter Halse.

Mrs Royle said: “It has been a year of growth and development, especially with the number of people calling to book transport, purchase disability aids and make general transport enquiries. The office is a very busy place and is a hive of activity.”

The charity, which runs a number of services including a ring and ride and voluntary car service, currently has a dedicated team of 76 volunteers and paid staff, with 41 voluntary car drivers for Honiton, Seaton and Lyme Regis.

It is also the fourth largest community transport service in Devon.

Most Read

This is a contrast to last year when the charity was struggling to keep passenger numbers up, as Mrs Royle admitted.

She said: “There has been a decline in the shopping service brought about by the free bus pass, which did really have a bad effect, but we are providing more outings and less around town trips.”

During January to December 2010, more than 25,000 passengers booked transport, which is up by more than 1,000 compared to last year.

Early indications for 2011 show a continued demand for TRIP’s services.

The charity is now in a position to purchase a new bus to increase its fleet to six vehicles, which will be a great help for TRIP.

The good times continue to roll as they prepare to expand its office space after securing an agreement to rent two units in Kings Court, providing additional office space and a meeting room for its befriending service.

There was also good news for TRIP’s newest venture as it plans to set up its befriending service, which it hopes to have up and running by February 2012.

Mrs Royle said: “We are in the very early stages. In response to 130 positive replies from a survey to access the need for such a service for Honiton and the surrounding rural areas, we are pressing ahead to try and fill a gap that exists out there.

“We have had several people express an interest in becoming befrienders.”

The project was given a boost after receiving donations totalling �5,250 to help get the project up and running.

TRIP will be working alongside the East Devon Volunteer Support Agency (EDVSA) to provide free training for volunteers looking to become befrienders.

Jill Loader from EDVSA said: “We are very excited about TRIP’s proposal to develop a new befriending scheme. This is a fantastic opportunity and TRIP should be congratulated for taking that step.

“We are really excited to be supporting TRIP to develop this scheme and would like to encourage more people in the community to come forward and find out more.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can call TRIP on (01404) 46529.