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Project information

Age Concern Gateshead Travelling Companion Project

Volunteers transport frail & very isolated older people to visit loved ones in a hospice/hospital/nursing home or to keep their own hospital appointment. It's not just a transport project - our volunteers also support our clients who may be distressed at visiting their terminally ill loved one.

Ongoing project with continuous need

Charity information: Age Concern Gateshead

Age Concern Gateshead logo
  • Need


    We set the project up because older people were contacting us for help to visit their loved one (usually their partner) in a hospice/hospital/nursing home. These are frail & isolated older people living in their own homes, usually unable to use public transport independently and don't have anyone else to help them. In some cases people were having to pay £30 for a taxi &, if you're wanting to visit your terminally ill husband of 60 years more than twice a week, that's unmanageable for most.


    We set up this low cost high impact project in 2005 and we know it works. Trained volunteer drivers transport & escort clients to & from their visit/hospital appointment, supporting them in whatever way needed (eg helping guide them to the right ward, getting them a cup of tea, sitting with them for a chat when they get back home if they've had a distressing visit or received difficult health news themselves). In 2009/10 10 volunteers took 170 frail older people on over 350 journeys.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To enable frail & isolated older people to visit their loved ones in hospice, hospital, nursing home


    » Volunteer drivers will transport clients to and from their appointment or visits and escort them into the hospital/hospice & remain as long as needed.

    What success will look like

    Success will be..frail & isolated older people receiving the appropriate practical help to enable them to visit their loved one/attend hospital and thus reduce their anxiety.

    Aim 2

    To provide support to frail and isolated older people at a difficult/distressing time


    » Our volunteer drivers aren't just drivers. They also support the client during and after the visit - just having a chat & cup of tea can really help
    » Our volunteers can also provide information about Age Concern Gateshead's other services which may be of use - eg Bereavement Support, Benefits Checks

    What success will look like

    Success will be...clients telling us that their volunteer helped make a difficult time less distressing due to their support and companionship & also knowing they're not alone.

  • Impact


    Changes will differ from client to client but will include reduced anxiety & isolation, increased access to healthcare (and therefore better health) and, for clients where their loved one is terminally ill, our support provides a better 'end of life' experience. "My husband of 60 years was in the hospital and we knew he didn't have long to live. It meant so much to us both that I could visit everyday with a mixture of taxis and volunteer drivers & that's been a great comfort."


    Risks could include:
    Not enough volunteer drivers (& we work hard to recruit volunteers & usually have approx 10).
    Volunteers working in a variety of settings across Gateshead (all volunteers are CRB checked, receive training, have appropriate vehicle insurance & attend regular group meetings).
    Not enough clients needing the service (this is very unlikely as we receive so many calls or referrals from professionals such as social workers & GPs).


    We are used to reporting to a variety of donors in a variety of ways so would be happy to fit in with whatever a donor might require.
    We collate numbers of volunteers, numbers of clients, numbers of journeys, referral sources & also gather case histories.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £10,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £2,700 Volunteer costs Travel costs (inc parking fees)/training/infor packs/ vol recruitment
      £570 Admin costs Postage, telephone, stationery, phone
      £6,730 Staff costs 1 existing worker -1 day a week plus NI/pension

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Client contributions £700 Conditional
    Gateshead Primary Care Trust £3,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Our Travelling Copmpanions project is run from our Age Concern Gateshead offices in Gateshead Town Centre. Our volunteer drivers travel across Gateshead to pick up clients and then travel to a variety of settings (eg hospices, hospitals, care homes) some of which might be in areas outside Gateshead (eg Newcastle, Sunderland).


    Frail and isolated older people in poor health living in their own homes will benefit, including people on low incomes and unable to afford taxis or to afford taxis as regularly as they require. Some of our clients are in wheelchairs or have a range of disabilities which make travelling on public transport impossible.
    Gateshead has a population of 191,000 and a higher than average number of older residents. Nearly half of our population live in the top 20% most deprived areas on England.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We've been running this project for 5 years now & the need & demand is growing. We have a fantastic team of volunteer drivers (averaging about 10) who are so committed to the project. As well as established systems, we run a range of other services which our Travelling Companion clients can benefit from. We're the largest voluntary sector provider of older people's services in Gateshead so have a high profile with the public and with professionals who refer into the project.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Val Jewitt

    Val is our Good Companions Co-ordinator managing several projects which reduce social isolation. Val set up Travelling Companions in 2005.

    Our Travelling Companions Volunteers

    On average we have about 10 - 12 Travelling Companion volunteers at any one time. We couldn't run this project without these wonderful people.

"I can't get out by myself anymore. Only got my sister left so having help to visit her in the hospice is a great comfort."

Harry (83)