When it comes to travelling any form of distance, we all complain. About everything. Traffic is frustrating. Taxis are too expensive. There aren’t enough cycling lanes. Walking is tiring. Buses are infrequent. Trams or the tube are too busy. We are a nation of complainers and with transport, it can feel like there’s no pleasing us at times. However, most of us have multiple options. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a complicated process to get from one place to another. However, for some elderly people, transport is a much bigger concern. Due to illness or social circumstances, it can be difficult for some people to leave the house for outings in their older age. Problems with their eyesight may prevent them from driving themselves, and an injury may make walking to a bus, tram or tube stop dangerous. There’s also a large confidence issue at play. After all, nowadays buying a ticket for public transport or booking a taxi relies more heavily on technological skills. It can end up that you need to know how to work an app, understand a touch screen and be able to deal with contactless payments just to be able to go to the shops. For many in their older age, this is simply not realistic. What happens then, when the ability to travel even short distances is restricted or completely taken away? Elderly people can find themselves more and more isolated, which negatively affects their mental health and can even weaken their immune systems, making them more susceptible to illnesses. Luckily, a charity in Berkshire (“Driven Forward”) is determined not to let that happen.
Driven Forward is a new initiative from Tiia Stephens as a way to provide vulnerable adults with transport across Windsor, Maidenhead and the wider Royal Borough area. Tiia is setting out to organise regular (wheelchair accessible) trips for local care home residents and other vulnerable adults, in order to combat the risk of loneliness and social isolation. With their first trip recently to Longacres Garden Centre in Bagshot for 10 residents from Bowes Lyon Close estate, it’s clear this could be the start of a great new social venture.
A really positive part of Driven Forward is their commitment to vulnerable adults from all backgrounds. They’re not just looking at the stereotypical residents in care homes who are isolated, but also those who have recently left homelessness who may be finding it tough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As Tiia says, “it’s more than just a taxi service, it is about rehabilitation into society and improving the mental wellbeing of people who are reluctant or unable to engage in activities alone or among the wider society.” She’s hoping that with adequate funding they’ll be able to grow into fortnightly trips to Asda as well as other social activities for groups of older adults. It’s a not-for-profit movement looking to improve the lives of the elderly, by focusing on a key problematic area: travel. Once it becomes easier for isolated adults to leave the house, it’s then just a hop skip and a jump away from reducing the risk of social isolation and the mental health problems the elderly can feel. With help from programmes like Driven Forward friendships can be made, gossiping sessions can be had, new creative outlets can be discovered and overall wellbeing can be improved.
As a recent episode of Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds examined, there are excellent benefits (both physical and psychological) to be had from encouraging elderly people to be more active within the local community, whether it’s through going to a superstore or in Driven Forward’s case, having a wander around a garden centre. It can stimulate creativity and social skills which may not get as much use in isolated older age, as well as forcing adults into doing a level of physical activity that helps their blood pressure, heart rate and other key areas. So, if charities like Driven Forward can make it easier for adults to get out into the community, it could end up doing the world of good to our elders; inspiring more strategic efforts across the country. And who knows, maybe soon, everyone (no matter their age or situation in life) will be able to complain equally about having to deal with public transport systems.