Fuel prices hitting charities and volunteers hard

Some of the Hantsar Volunteers

Some of the Hantsar Volunteers

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

SPIRALLING fuel costs are driving many motorists into the ground, but cash-strapped charities in particular are feeling the squeeze.

As the Daily Echo launches the Don’t be a Fuel Fool campaign, we look at how Hampshire’s voluntary organisations are being affected by rocketing petrol prices.

Lifesaving charity Hampshire Search and Rescue (HANTSAR), who help police search for missing people, say their vital service is under threat because of fuel costs.

They can be asked to join a search anywhere in the county – which can mean a 100-mile round-trip for some callouts.

Chairman Simon Jeffs said: “Some of our members are on really low incomes and a lot of people are saying they can’t come to training exercises because of the cost of travel. I dread to think that would happen on an actual call out.

“If it keeps going this way I’m going to get to the point where the police will phone me for a call out and I’ll say sorry, I’ve got no one available.

“Potentially, lives could be put at risk by a lack of available people to take part in searches.”

Fundraisers for Hampshire’s Air Ambulance are also finding it is taking more funds to keep it in the air.

CEO John Perry said: “Inevitably increases in petrol prices leads to an increase in aviation costs, so it does have an affect.

“It won’t stop us flying but we will need more effort and more fundraising to keep it in the air.”

Volunteering organisation One Community in Eastleigh has noticed people are less willing to volunteer as drivers to take people to vital hospital visits because of the costs involved.

Operations Manager Julia Allan said: “I know people who have volunteered as drivers for many years but they’re beginning to say this is costing me money and I don’t know how long I can carry on doing it. I also think it is putting people off volunteering, both as drivers specifically or in general – because whatever volunteering you do, you usually have to travel to get there.”

Mrs Allan says she hopes things like the Daily Echo’s car-sharing initiative will help people to continue to volunteer.

“We have quite a number of volunteers working in our offices and if there’s somebody travelling the same way at the same time it could really help them out,” she added.

“We need to find a way around this and all these things are definitely worth considering.”

• Have you got any cost-cutting fuel tips? Email bethan.phillips@ dailyecho.co.uk.

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