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Local charity’s appeal to help keep wheels turning

Beverley Community Lift  is appealing for urgent help from the East Yorkshire community as it works on a strategy to overcome the impact of EU transport rules that are threatening its financial stability.

The charity is battling to maintain its local services, which provide a lifeline for many local people. EU legislation means it can no longer maintain the commercial contracts that, for years, have contributed vital income to sustain community transport services.

For a number of years, Beverley Community Lift has relied on revenue from its schools contracts to supplement its charitable activities.

However, in order to continue with those contracts, it would need to apply for an operator’s licence or “O licence”. This is due to the enforcement of European legislation which is compelling all community transport charities across the UK, like BCL, to rethink their operational structures.

Unfortunately, BCL’s circumstances mean that it is not in a position to apply for an O licence, due to various stringent criteria, including the need to have a dedicated depot to store its fleet of vehicles in. As a result, the charity has had no option but to decide not to apply for the licence. This means it will also have to hand back its school contracts to East Riding Council at the end of this current school year. BCL has given notice to the Council of their intention to withdraw.

Jan Stainforth (pictured), the charity’s chief executive, said: “This is, of course, a major blow as it means our remaining revenue is not sufficient, in itself, to support our primary purpose of providing much-needed transport for vulnerable people such as elderly and disabled people.

“Our passengers tell us that we make a real difference to their lives, and that they would be lost without us, unable to get to their medical appointments, go food shopping, or to get out and about to reduce loneliness.

“We remain absolutely committed to that purpose but we are having to take a long, hard look at everything we do. Given today’s economic climate, the charity is struggling to maintain enough funding to support its services. We are doing everything we can through activities like fundraising events and the establishment of a charity shop, and we are now considering how to ensure a more secure future.”

BCL is a well-established charity that has been providing vital support for vulnerable people across the Beverley, Pocklington and Market Weighton areas for almost 50 years. It doesn’t just offer transport, its drivers go above and beyond to support and befriend customers who, without their help, would be very isolated and less independent. In fact, those relationships are also a vital link for many of BCL’s drivers, who themselves value the social interaction it gives them, and it is an equal blow for them.

Jan concluded: “As we work on measures to support these services for local people, we are appealing for the support of East Yorkshire businesses and individuals that might be in a position to offer us their help, both financial and in terms of advice and ideas for sustaining this important and well-loved service.”

If you are able to help in any way, or for more information, please visit www.bclift.org.uk, email manager@bclift.org.uk or telephone 01482 868082.