Sunderland retirement scheme residents in the driving seat after teaming up to buy a car

(from left)  George and Grace Bamborough; Bruce Johnson; Housing and Care Manager Maureen Hall; Tom Davison; Josephine Dingwall; Molly Carter and George Broad.

(from left) George and Grace Bamborough; Bruce Johnson; Housing and Care Manager Maureen Hall; Tom Davison; Josephine Dingwall; Molly Carter and George Broad.

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Residents at a Sunderland retirement scheme are hitting the road after clubbing together to buy themselves a car.

Members of the Residents Committee at Dovecote Meadow in Ford Estate have bought a specially adapted Renault Kangoo to take people to and from hospital and doctor’s appointments and to help out with other important trips

They held fund-raising events such as raffles, coffee mornings and quizzes over a year and half to raise the money.

Committee Chairman Tom Davison said: "For a lot of older people, getting out and about can be a bit difficult, and a bit daunting. It can even put people off making important trips to the doctors and that sort of thing.

"We wanted to take all of that stress and worry away, and thought this was a really good way of doing that.

"We don’t charge the residents, but we do welcome small donations to help with us run the service. There are no rotas or anything, if someone lets us know when they need a lift, we try and make sure we can do that for them.

"At the moment, I am the only driver, but we are hoping that as it takes off a bit, some more people here will come forward to help out.

"It took quite a while to raise the funds, for the car and all the other stuff you need to make sure it is on the road properly, but it has been welcomed by the residents and has been really worthwhile," added Tom, 60.

The Residents Committee, led by Tom and colleague Margaret New, have also been active in introducing other facilities for the people living there, including having gym equipment installed in a communal room, and a greenhouse added in the garden.

Manager Maureen Hall said: "The Residents Committee here is very active, and has worked hard to put in place some wonderful things to support everyone who lives here.

There really is a great sense of community at Dovecote Meadow, and everyone supports each other. It is great to see."

Managed by Housing & Care 21, a not-for-profit provider of housing and support for older people, Dovecote Meadow was designed and built in partnership with Sunderland City Council. It is an Extra Care scheme, which means residents live independently in their own apartments, with access to care and support services 24/7, and a range of communal facilities.