Providing a Vital Service - Wayne Struble is one of the 3 volunteers who regularly drive Kipling’s Handy Van. However, the Town says that more volunteer drivers are needed to ensure that the service will not have to be downsized or discontinued.

The Town of Kipling is still seeking volunteer drivers for its Handy Van and says that the service is at risk of being discontinued or downsized if more drivers aren’t found.
Town CAO Gail Dakue says that the Kipling Handy Van is a longstanding service that those in the community with mobility issues rely on.
“Our Handy Van has been operating for over 20 years (first through Kipling Industries and then through the Town). For those who have mobility issues, it really is a vital service that they depend on. It is something that anyone with mobility issues can access – whether they are a senior – someone with long-term mobility challenges – or someone who needs assistance in getting around as they recover from an injury.
“The Handy Van makes several ‘trips’ each time it operates. One ‘trip” involves picking the client up – taking them to their destination – and bringing them back home. We also offer a service to Rudyard Manor residents on Friday at 1:30 to assist those who need to go downtown. On average, the Handy Van will make about 30 trips per month.
“People schedule various appointments around the Handy Van service. We also work closely with Home Care, as they will schedule people’s medical appointments and baths around the Handy Van schedule.”
Currently, there are three volunteers who regularly drive the Handy Van, and Dakue says that having such a limited number of drivers has led to situations where the service had to be cancelled – something which causes difficulties for those who rely on the service as well as those who help to provide it.
“The three volunteer drivers that we have right now are very dedicated individuals. But if one of those volunteers is ill or is unable to drive for any reason, that can mean that the service has to be cancelled. We were in that very situation recently. The person scheduled to drive was unable to and we were not able to find a driver. And situations like that have become more frequent.
“This creates a serious problem for clients who will have to miss their baths or appointments if they can’t find someone to drive them. It also creates a lot of difficulties for Home Care, as they have to then reschedule people’s appointments. And it puts a lot of pressure on the volunteer drivers that we do have – because they know that if they don’t drive – people may not have the service that they are depending on.
“If we had a pool of 6-8 volunteers who could be available to drive (even if only once per month) that would be much better. The service could operate without these types of disruptions. And the volunteers themselves wouldn’t feel as much pressure.”
She notes that a lack of volunteers to drive the bus has already led to reduced service and says that unless more drivers are available the service may be in danger of being discontinued or downsized further.
“The Handy Van currently operates on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We did previously operate the service on Mondays as well. But due to a shortage of drivers, we found that we had to reduce the service to two days per week. So, it began operating on Wednesdays and Friday only (since those tended to be the two busiest days).
“We can continue to operate the Handi-Van with three drivers for now. But we know that situations will continue to come up and cancellations will occur. If more drivers aren’t found, the service would eventually be at risk of being discontinued.
“Should that happen, Council would review the situation and determine whether or not it was financially feasible to make driving the Handy Van a paid position or not.”
Dakue points out that anyone who would like to volunteer to drive will receive the support needed in order to ensure that they can take the wheel with confidence.
“The Handy Van isn’t a difficult vehicle to drive. It handles much like any other van does. So, no special license is needed. Drivers do need to submit a Driver’s Abstract, which is available through SGI. There is a charge for that, but the Town will cover that cost.
“We do provide drivers with some training on how to operate the lift. And one of our current drivers will go through the process of operating the van with a new volunteer. So, a new volunteer will be able to feel comfortable getting into the driver’s seat.”
Anyone interested in volunteering to drive the Handy Van is asked to contact the Town of Kipling Office.

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