Falling numbers sees end to Saffron Walden Social Car Service after more than 40 years of helping the elderly

PUBLISHED: 09:08 07 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:34 08 March 2018

John Tarries has been a driver for SWSCS for 14 years. Picture: Archant

John Tarries has been a driver for SWSCS for 14 years. Picture: Archant


Saffron Walden Social Car Service (SWSCS), which helped the frail and elderly get to medical appointments for more than 40 years, will be closing at the end of March.

The service will be ending on March 31 after ‘reluctantly’ deciding it should cease operations following a steady decline in customers.

The earliest available record of the car service dates back to February 5, 1976, in a letter published in the Herts and Essex Observer.

It reports that the Saffron Walden Council of Churches launched a voluntary scheme known as ‘Walden Christian Service’ to help those in need by visiting the ‘housebound and lonely, to sit with young or old’ and to provide transport to hospitals or other medical services.

Roger Mance, who has been the SWSCS secretary for four years, said: “SWSCS is proud to have been able to help the frail and elderly attend their appointments at GP surgeries, opticians, dentists and the local hospital for more than 40 years.

“But in recent years the numbers using the service have steadily declined to the point that it is no longer viable.”

Mr Mance said the service worked on donations from the people using the service to cover petrol costs, insurance and telephone bills but the number of annual trips declined from 984 in 2007 to 269 in 2017.

He said multiple factors had led to the decline in users, including introduction of new drugs which reduced the need for regular blood tests, more people using mobility equipment and more elderly people in retirement homes.

Mr Mance said: “We do provide a very caring service for people. It’s fair to say all the drivers will miss the people they have been helping over the years.”

John Harries, driver for SWSCS for 14 years and treasurer for the last year, said: “I was still taking a lady to her appointments a year ago whom I first took in 2004.

“Even back in 2012 we were worried about numbers. We have given it time to see if we can pick up new people but it hasn’t really happened.”

Mr Mance said: “We hope that those people who make use of our service will understand this decision. We wish them well for the future and would draw their attention to the Uttlesford Community Travel Service which provides similar assistance.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dunmow Broadcast visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dunmow Broadcast staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dunmow Broadcast account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More news stories

Most of us can only dream of owning a car worth over a quarter of a million pounds.

The Helena Romanes School and Sxith Form Centre in Dunmow will host an evening of spiritual mediumship on September 28.

Prayers for sunshine and cloudless skies were answered as thousands poured into Dunmow for the carnival on Saturday.

More than 130 houses could be built in Great Canfield under plans submitted to Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

Digital Edition

Read the Dunmow Broadcast e-edition E-edition

Most read stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Dunmow Broadcast weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy