Happy tears as Honiton ‘vital’ transport service tackling loneliness funds first-of-its kind electric vehicle

A deputy manager of a Honiton transport service dedicated to reducing loneliness has cried happy tears over the generosity of donations made to fund a new electric vehicle.

TRIP has been granted £7,500 from East Devon District Council, and £5,000 from Devon County Council to help achieve its Crowdfunding goal of a total of £35,000.

The transport group believes the wheelchair-friendly electric vehicle will be the first of its kind to be used by an East Devon community organisation.

Councillor Mike Allen, EDDC ward member Honiton St Michael’s, said he ‘wished’ they could add another nought to the sum being granted to the ‘vital’ community. service.

Sharon Thorne, Honiton TRIP deputy manager, said: “It’s been amazing to hear the wonderful comments the community have made about TRIP and this fundraising project.

“To see the support in terms of donations, well this is completely overwhelmingly and wonderful.

“I will admit I have cried a few times as well, as it was hard not to become emotional when someone you know is ‘only just managing’ and they insist on donating £10, or also when someone calls to offer £500.

“They all mean so much to the team, knowing people care about support TRIP and the environment with this project.”

She added: “Also, knowing we had had support from EDDC has been fantastic.”

Councillor Mike Allen, EDDC ward member Honiton St Michael’s, said: “TRIP is a vital part of the Honiton and district community and the volunteers have worked beyond any expectations and during the pandemic to ferry people and food to so many places of need.

“I wish we could put another nought on the end of the cheque we are sending.”

Cllr Phil Twiss, EDDC ward member for Honiton, said: “TRIP is an inspirational organisation that we are fortunate to have based in Honiton.

“It provides unrivalled and invaluable community transport services to very many residents, many with mobility issues.

“Purchasing a new one-hundred per cent electric vehicle with wheelchair access will not only help continue to operate vital services but also demonstrate a commitment to operating it with zero carbon emissions.”


Sharon Thorne, Honiton TRIP deputy manager, with the 17-year-old vehicle that needs replacing.
Image: TRIP.

TRIP, which has spent has more than 20 years working in East Devon’s communities, helping to reduce loneliness and isolation with services such as transport and befriending, launched a Crowdfunding campaign to replace its 17-year-old vehicle with a 100 per cent electric version.

The community group, which carried out more than 35,000 journeys a year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, said the new vehicle will be better for passengers and the environment.

A TRIP spokesperson said: “Our vision is to be the first community groups to embrace technology and provide an electric wheelchair vehicle.

“This innovative e-vehicle will replace the current 17-year-old vehicle and join our fleet to help provide over 35,000 transport requests a year.”

Grants given by the EDDC and DCC helped raise the final £20,000 needed to help buy the £35,000 vehicle, and keep the service’s phone lines running.

Councillor Jack Rowland, EDDC community grants panel chairman, said: “We were very pleased to be able to support TRIP in view of their successful crowdfunding effort.

“As I have in the past been a volunteer driver for TRIP, I’m fully aware of the help that is given in so many ways to residents across a wide area of East Devon who would otherwise struggle to find alternative help.”

Cllr Roger Croad, DCC cabinet member for communities, said: “During the pandemic it was groups like TRIP that made such a difference to people’s lives, supporting those in the community who felt isolated and lonely and needed to hear a friendly voice.

“I’m happy to be able to support this project, it’s exactly the kind of community project Crowdfund Devon was set up for.”

He added: “If you have an idea that could help improve your local community, we’d like to hear about it.”

East Devon District Council still has £50,000 of funding available to local community projects through Crowdfund East Devon. See here for more information.

At the same time as raising money from the local community by crowdfunding, organisations can apply for up to £10,000 from the council for East Devon projects, and for a large amount of county-wide crowdfunding money available from Devon County Council and from Devon and Cornwall Police.

If you are interested and would like crowdfunding training, email jbuckley@eastdevon.gov.uk

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