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