TWO charities for the elderly have been awarded over £350,000 to expand their community transport offer across Northwest Leeds.

Two of the Leeds Neighbourhood Network schemes supporting the over 60s - Rawdon-based Aireborough Voluntary Services to the Elderly (AVSED) and Older People's Action in the Locality (OPAL), which works in the LS16 area - have established a partnership, and together have successfully secured a grant totalling £356,873 from Motability Foundation, a registered charity.

The funding will increase the provision of accessible transport to older people in Northwest Leeds, which will seek to benefit the 1587 members of both charities, alongside providing accessible disability friendly transport to the wider communities in which the two charities serve.

The project was launched on Wednesday, February 28 at an event attended by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Stan Hardy who described it as an "amazing project".

Ilkley Gazette: The official launch of the project with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Stan HardyThe official launch of the project with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Stan Hardy (Image: submitted)

Debbie Fawthrop, AVSED manager, said: “We are thrilled to find out that the Motability Foundation has funded our project, which will enable us to expand and reach more beneficiaries, many of whom may not have access to affordable, disability-friendly, community transport. The funding allows us to promote independence and support choices for those facing barriers to transport."

The charities have purchased two brand new wheelchair accessible vehicles, and they will develop a shared pool of transport volunteers, including volunteer drivers, and passenger assistants, that will be used collaboratively to deliver their services.

Both charities offer door to door transport to help improve the quality of life for older and disabled people, by supporting access to classes and activities, run by both the charities themselves and elsewhere, including:

• Hospital transportation

• Health appointments

• Three dementia specific activities

• Bereavement support

• Inclusion group for those with complex mobility needs and sensory impairments

• Exercise classes

• Social activities

Together, they make around 2,400 individual journeys per month, which include hot meal deliveries and three lunch clubs attended by up to a 100 older people each week. Offering this door-to-door service eliminates barriers around location and logistics to passengers who may lack stability and confidence, allowing them to live independently and build social networks.

Brenda Stammers, an OPAL member who receives this transport provision said: “I used to be stuck in the house all the time but now I come to the lunch clubs, chair exercise, and have some lovely friends.”

Ilkley Gazette: The new vehiclesThe new vehicles (Image: submitted)

OPAL and AVSED, which have a combined 50 years’ experience, were both significantly impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic. As a result OPAL, expanded to meet the increased need in the LS16 area and AVSED underwent an organisational restructure.

Both charities strive to offer the best that they can in financially difficult times and this much needed funding will help them deliver more services to local people and make a real difference to their lives and independence.

For more information visit: and