Sunderland shopping service saved

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A TRANSPORT lifeline for pensioners has been restored.

Older people in Wearside were devastated after popular Age UK Shopper Bus was scrapped when funders, including Nexus, pulled out.

But the transport giant was able to get pensioners back on the road by funding Compass Community Transport to extend a current shopping service with daily runs to local supermarkets.

Compass’ transport manager, Eddie Kerry, said the charity stepped in when the Age UK bus came to the end of the road on December 31.

Its fleet of 14 mini-buses now offer daily runs from around the city, the Morrisons in Seaburn and Doxford and Asda at Leechmere.

Drivers will help people on and off the bus, carry their shopping into their homes and each journey costs just £3.

Eddie, 62, from Hollycarside, said it has proved a hit with older people.

“It is 50 per cent of our work, because it is a lifeline for them.

“They can get taxis but the drivers don’t carry the bags in and their health wasn’t up to it.

“We are getting a massive response from older people, mainly through word of mouth.

“When people get in touch, we build lists up as we need to get five or six people for an area to put a vehicle on, or they can drop onto a list for another area.”

Compass Community Transport has been running for eight years this month and supplies buses and drivers for community groups, as well as running the number 37 Washington to Doxford Park.

Councillor Peter Wood, chairman of the Board of Compass Community Transport and Sunderland representative on the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: “The ending of the Age UK service is very much to be regretted. It is important this vital lifeline for elderly citizens who cannot otherwise get to a supermarket for their essential shopping is kept going.”

A Nexus spokesman said: “We want as many people as possible to have access to shopper services.

“The shopper service is currently making around one hundred journeys a week in various areas of the city.”

*To arrange a Shopper service in Sunderland call Compass Community Transport on 523 5383.