Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Fish minibus resumes shopping trips to supermarkets

Fish minibus resumes shopping trips to supermarkets

THE Fish Volunteer Centre minibus trips have resumed.

The charity’s new Mercedes Benz Sprinter was able to be used on just two trips before the cororavirus lockdown in March, which meant all journeys were cancelled.

Now the service has resumed its trips to Henley supermarkets on four days a week but day trips to attractions or to Reading are still not taking place.

Fish bus manager John Pearman said “We made the decision to restart about a month ago.

“We rang around previous users of the bus in August to see if they were okay and needed any help but their relatives and friends were helping them.

“But they missed travelling on the bus so we thought we would give it a go and see how many people took it up. We are keeping to the shops in Henley for now and not Reading.

“We used to have social visits to the pub but that’s all out of the question at the moment.

“A month ago, it seemed okay but now there are talks about a second lockdown and more.

“I’m not encouraging travel but the option is there if people want to use it.”

Five volunteer drivers have returned to run the service, which includes shopping trips to Tesco off Reading Road on Monday and Wednesday and Waitrose in Bell Street on Tuesday and Friday.

Mr Pearman added: “We’ve missed it actually. We drive because we enjoy the experience and we enjoy being out with the people.

“We didn’t do much in lockdown but our gardens have never looked so good!”

Safety measures are in place on the bus to adhere to the government coronavirus rules.

Only five passengers are allowed on board at once and everyone must wear masks as well as use hand sanitiser when boarding.

Passengers must be able to fit their own seatbelts and keep their distance from other passengers as much as possible.

Mr Pearman added: “The seats are numbered to show people where they can sit. We will take their shopping to the door as we usually do.

“When the bus is empty we will deep clean everything. We also have a spray to use on all the furniture.”

When it was not in use the new bus was kept in the Johnson Matthey car park in Widmore Lane and the volunteers would take it in turns to take it for a spin to keep the engine turning.

Mr Pearman said: “Hopefully it’ll be more reliable than the old bus, which was quite old.

“The buses take some wear and tear and we know from experience that the repair costs start to rise, so it was a financial decision to get a new one.

“Our hopes for the future are that we can expand the service but at the moment it’s just working out a scenario that is best for us all.”

The minibus will pick up passengers from home at 9am. Each trip costs £4 or is free with a bus pass.

For more information, call Fish on 0118 972 3986 or visit www.fishvolunteercentre.org.uk

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