this is the MONDAY page 5 lead


A LONG standing voluntary group which provides lifeline transport for the most vulnerable local people has seen its funding slashed by the council.

Inverclyde's Voluntary Council of Social Services helps everybody from young school pupils with learning disabilities to elderly people visiting daycare centres.

They are currently transporting 200 people a day with their fleet of 22 buses, supported by local businesses, and a pool of 25 voluntary drivers who go above and beyond.

But councillors have slashed their funding from £50,000 last year to £25,000 this time round.

Now the charity is appealing for more volunteers to urgently come on board to help them through the cash crisis.

Transport secretary Callum Boyd said: "We found out two weeks ago our grant has been cut.

"Money is tight.

"We went from £50,000 from the Grants for Voluntary Organisations to £25,000 this year.

"This funding helps cover our maintenance costs.

"We have very committed drivers who help us but we need some more."

The voluntary service has a number of vital contracts with both education and social work.

Every day the voluntary service ferries around 100 pupils to Craigmarloch ASN School and it also takes people with learning disabilities to the Fitzgerald Centre in Greenock each day and ferries senior citizens to daycare clubs and work with four local nursing homes.

The council says it was inundated with applications for funding and took time to support as many good causes as possible.

Councillor Graeme Brooks, who is chair of the council’s Grants Sub Committee, said: “We had nearly 90 applications for funding and carefully considered each one, as we understand how vital this money can be to voluntary groups and organisations.

“I am delighted that we have been able to make these awards and am sure everyone involved will use the funds to continue the important work they carry out in their local communities.”

The voluntary council transport service relies on the support of local business and individuals like Greenock chartered accountant Tom Neill, aged 72.

He is director of finance at Greenock Medical Aid Society, who benefit from the charity's work.

Tom, whose name now appears on one of their buses, said: "I have a long association with the IVCSS and I know first-hand the tremendous work they do.

"I wanted to give something back and show my support.

"I am very proud to be associated with both IVCSS and the Greenock Medical Aid Society."

* Anyone who could help support IVCSS and join their pool of voluntary drivers should call Callum Boyd, based in Lynedoch Industrial Estate, on 791939 or 07929153421.