Wiltshire Link Schemes
Community First supports 45 Link Schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon, led by an amazing group of volunteers who help keep communities connected to vital local services.
Wiltshire Link Schemes
Link Schemes are community-based, volunteer run charities based predominantly in Wiltshire which aim to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged, elderly or infirm people by providing transport and ‘good neighbour’ services.
Link schemes help to keep local communities connected to vital services, by connecting volunteer drivers (using their own cars), with passengers who have limited access to transport. Depending on volunteer availability, this can involve taking someone to a medical appointment, taking them shopping or providing ‘good neighbour’ services like prescription collection.
A donation is requested from passengers using Link volunteer cars to support the cost of running the service. Each Link scheme is run by a group of local volunteers managed by a local Link Co-ordinator. People wishing to use the service, simply call their local co-ordinator who will endeavour to arrange for a volunteer to carry out the task.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Link Scheme?
‘Link’ is the name adopted by Good Neighbour schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon. Link Schemes have existed in Wiltshire since 1979 and there are currently 45 schemes in the county supporting rural and urban communities. Link Schemes are voluntary groups which offer a transport and good neighbour service to local people who are in need, perhaps because they are elderly, disabled, or single parents, or perhaps temporarily in need because of illness.
These essential services provide a safety net for those unable to access services in other ways. Link Schemes aim to complement other services, statutory and voluntary, and clients will be directed to another service if appropriate. Link Schemes operate as small, independent charitable organisations, and generally have a Management Committee, Co-ordinator and Volunteers. Each Link Scheme responds to the needs of its community and uses the skills offered by its volunteers.
How does a Link Scheme work?
Link Schemes are volunteer-led charities or community groups who support local communities by offering transport and ‘good neighbour’ services to people with limited access to transport. There are 45 Link Schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon which offer support to people living in specific geographical areas.
Each local Link Scheme has a team of volunteer drivers (using their own cars) and a Link Coordinator who acts as the main point of contact for people wishing to use the service. The coordinator receives a request for support or transport (from a member of the public) and will endeavour to find a volunteer to carry out the task.
Passengers who travel with their local Link Scheme can make an anonymous, voluntary donation to support the running costs of the Link scheme.
Who can use Link Scheme services?
Link Schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon exist to support local people who have limited access to transport. This might be because they are elderly, lonely, disabled, a single parent or perhaps are temporarily in need because of illness.
Link Schemes provide a supplementary transport service for people who are unable to access facilities or local services in any other way. This may be through lack of transport or an inability to use public transport because of cost or inaccessibility.
What can Link Scheme services be used for?
Transport can be provided for: medical appointments, shopping, visiting relatives or friends in hospital, social visits, attendance at Luncheon Clubs or Day Centres, and collecting shopping. On a day to day basis, priority may be given to elderly clients requesting transport to medical appointments; requests for transport for social visits or leisure activities can be supported if sufficient volunteers are available.
Please note: This excludes medical journeys which could be referred to the Non-Emergency Patient Transport (NEPT) Service (which provides non-emergency transport services to hospital appointments). If you are eligible for NEPT services, you should ideally make use of this service before contacting your local Link Scheme.
How much does it cost?
There are no set fares for using a Link Scheme. As Link Schemes are volunteer-led charities or community groups, most schemes accept anonymous, voluntary donations from passengers to support the running costs of the scheme.
Do I need to book in advance?
If you would like to use your local Link Scheme it is very important to book ahead and give as much notice as you can. This is to ensure that the local Link Coordinator has enough time to find a volunteer to carry out the task.
What is a Good Neighbour service?
As well as providing transport, many local Link Schemes offer ‘Good Neighbour’ services, with Link Scheme volunteers offering practical help for small tasks in the home or garden. This could include befriending, sitting to relieve a carer, help with shopping, reading or prescription collection.
Please note: The Good Neighbour service is not designed for any task that would require involvement from a qualified tradesperson, care provider or adult social services.
What checks are carried out on Link Scheme volunteers?
All Link Schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon are committed to ensuring the safety of passengers, service users and volunteers. This includes an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for all volunteers as well as checks to ensure volunteer drivers have a full UK driving license and that vehicles used to carry passengers are roadworthy and insured.
What resources are available for Link Schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon?
Community First has produced a number of templates and resources for Link Schemes in Wiltshire and Swindon, including a Link Scheme Good Practice Guide, which can be downloaded from this website (click the link or see below). For other templates and resources relevant to Link Schemes, please email Mary Hardwidge firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Minibus Groups
Volunteer with your local Link Scheme or Community Minibus group.
Find a local Link Scheme or Community Minibus group in Wiltshire and Swindon.
Contact details for the Community First team, including the Community Transport team.