A FRIENDLY face and a helping hand are needed to encourage elderly people to visit the theatre.
For older residents, getting out of the house to see a stage show is not just about finding the time but being able to travel to and from the venue.
I want to encourage people who might have public transport limitations, maybe don’t have a car, or are just anxious about coming on their own.Sophie Fullerlove
So The Spring arts and heritage centre, in East Street, Havant, has come up with an answer.
From January until April it is joining up with Andi Cars taxi firm on a pilot project to transport older people to and from events at the centre for free.
It is supported by Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Library Service and is for people in Waterlooville and Hayling Island who would otherwise be very isolated.
Now Sophie Fullerlove, director of The Spring, is looking for volunteers to help run the project and co-ordinate transport to and from specially-chosen events.
Miss Fullerlove said she was a big believer in making the venue more accessible.
She added: ‘This scheme has been set up to support those who may not otherwise be able to attend events at The Spring.
‘I want to encourage people who might have public transport limitations, maybe don’t have a car, or are just anxious about coming on their own.’
In order to make the scheme work, a team of volunteers are required to accompany the taxis and audience members from designated collection points in Hayling and Waterlooville to the venue and back again.
Volunteers on the scheme will receive a free ticket to the event they are supporting and will then return with the group in the taxi, hopefully encouraging a sense of community and gathering their feedback.
Miss Fullerlove added: ‘We’re looking for outgoing people who are able to commit to help the running of the scheme and be a friendly face to anyone nervous about attending an event on their own.’
Councillor Andy Lenaghan represents Hayling on Havant Borough Council.
He said: ‘It’s a wonderful idea for our older residents because there are issues with transport on the island.
‘There is no evening bus service so it makes getting home, in particular, very difficult.
‘It is a wonderful opportunity for older isolated residents to enjoy the culture in this area.’
The award-winning Spring arts and heritage centre has a wide range of events throughout the year.
There are exhibitions, workshops, film screenings, theatre shows and concerts.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer on the scheme should contact operations manager Nigel Brown on (023) 9224 9066 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.