The ‘Handybus’ is Hungerford’s community minibus. It is run by CHAIN (Care in Hungerford Action In Need) and supported by Hungerford Town Council, the Town and Manor of Hungerford, West Berkshire Council and Greenham Trust. It has 11 passenger seats and has the ability to be modified to take a passenger who needs to travel in a wheelchair.
All drivers and organisers are unpaid volunteers and the bus operates on a not-for-profit basis.
The main aim of the bus is to provide transport for people who find it difficult to use normal transport or are socially isolated for some reason. It is also utilised by local organisations and local care homes.
It is kept busy on most week days. Some trips are organised on a weekly basis. These include a local morning trip to bring people to the centre of Hungerford for shopping and trips to the Swindon Hydrotherapy Pool. There are also three shopping trips each month to Newbury, stopping in the centre and, on some runs, Waitrose and the local egg farm. These are usually a half day in duration. We attempt to pick up and drop all passengers at their home addresses.
The number of journeys CHAIN has provided has increased over the past year: in 2016-17, for instance, there were 14 in the wheelchair vehicle and 4,686 handybus trips: these increased to 72 and 5,026 respectively the following year. The service thus remains popular and highly valued.
Trips are organised through a group of volunteers. Some trips are very popular and you may need to join a waiting list. If you would like to see if you can use the bus, please don’t hesitate to contact the Handybus Co-ordinator (Ted Angell) on 01488 682 610 or 07799 886 597 who will give the appropriate organiser’s contact details.
If you would like to join the Handybus team as a volunteer, you should also contact Ted. Volunteer drivers need to have a ‘D1’ category on their driving licence. Training and assessment in the driving and operation of the bus is given to ensure that all our drivers are able to drive safely and legally. We would also like to increase our pool of Passenger Assistants. These are volunteers who join certain bus trips to assist the driver and passengers during the run.
All our passengers are very appreciative of the service given by the Handybus and its team of volunteers!