Nor­wich Door to Door gives peo­ple a lift in more ways than one

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

A CHAR­ITY launched by a fa­ther and his dis­abled son has helped thou­sands of peo­ple who might other­wise be house­bound.

Nor­wich Door to Door is cel­e­brat­ing 25 years of help­ing peo­ple get out and about – to go shop­ping, meet friends, at­tend ap­point­ments and en­joy day trips.

Found­ing mem­ber Roger Hadley still uses the ser­vice, which was orig­i­nally called dial-a-ride, and for the past 25 years has en­abled peo­ple to call to book a ride, lit­er­ally door to door from their home to their des­ti­na­tion.

“The big­gest change in my life­time as a dis­abled per­son has been to have ac­cess to a reg­u­lar trans­port ser­vice,” says Roger, who has cere­bral palsy and in 2012 was hon­oured for his ser­vices to the com­mu­nity when he was an Olympic torch bearer.

The ser­vice, be­gun with his dad, Bert, still en­ables him to en­joy singing with Nor­wich Com­mu­nity Choir.

Many thou­sands of in­di­vid­ual trips are made ev­ery week and each re­lies on the good­will of vol­un­teers.

Some drive, some fund raise, some help

“It’s ul­tra sat­is­fy­ing to work with a group of peo­ple who ap­pre­ci­ate so much what we do”

peo­ple in and out of the buses and sit and chat with the pas­sen­gers dur­ing each jour­ney. Pas­sen­gers say that with­out Door to Door they would be house­bound. “Noth­ing is too much trou­ble for them. They are al­most like a fam­ily,” says one. “It changed my life. It is a life­line to the out­side world,” says an­other. Some are so de­lighted by the Door to Door ser­vice that they have writ­ten po­etry for it. The char­ity helps dis­abled peo­ple main­tain in­de­pen­dence, charg­ing af­ford­able fares for jour­neys in one of its 10 spe­cially adapted buses, each with a two-per­son crew. Funds come from pas­sen­ger con­tri­bu­tions, reg­u­lar fundrais­ing events and coun­cil grants. It has also se­cured con­tracts to trans­port dis­abled chil­dren to and from schools.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Jill Gaul says: “It’s ul­tra sat­is­fy­ing to work with a group of peo­ple who ap­pre­ci­ate so much what we do. Peo­ple tell us they feel less de­pressed, take fewer painkiller­s. It’s giv­ing peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to get out, make them­selves look nice. I’m very aware of how easy it is to stop go­ing out if it all be­comes too much ef­fort.”

She joined Door to Door al­most 20 years ago and hopes to re­tire this year, although she plans to carry on help­ing. “I have to be busy!” says Jill, who has sup­ported char­i­ties and good causes from child­hood. “My mother, as many moth­ers did at the time, set out quite early on to make sure that we vis­ited the el­derly neigh­bours. She was al­ways fundrais­ing for char­ity and we were brought up to have a go at ev­ery­thing, so we were equipped in life to look af­ter our­selves and look af­ter other peo­ple.” As a teenager, Jill was taken to Bishop Her­bert House, in Nor­wich, to meet young peo­ple less for­tu­nate than her­self.

“There were all these young men in there with mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy, in wheel­chairs. They were easy to make friends with,” says Jill.

Through her work­ing life she vol­un­teered in her spare time, and when she was made re­dun­dant, took time out to help the Women’s Royal Vol­un­tary Ser­vice (WRVS) de­liver meals on wheels.

Now she is proud to be part of Nor­wich Door to Door as it cel­e­brates 25 years of help­ing peo­ple get to ev­ery­thing from doc­tors to days out.

Below: Door to Door pas­sen­gers en­joy the chance to chat with vol­un­teers

Jill Gaul

Below: Roger Hadley car­ries the Olympic torch through north Nor­wich dur­ing the 2012 Olympic torch re­lay The Door to Door bus takes peo­ple on day trips

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