New Hubs Mobility Advice Service keeps Stroke survivor Terry volunteering for Riding for the Disabled

Terry Welsh, 71, heart attack/stroke survivor from Pelaw near Gateshead, has been able to continue volunteering at the RDA Washington Stables thanks to guidance from Driving Mobility’s new Hubs Mobility Advice Service (HMAS).

Terry is a positive individual and lives independently following a stroke and heart attack. This has led to his driving licence being revoked by the DVLA and the need to complete a ‘fitness to drive’ assessment at his local Driving Mobility Centre in Walkergate Park Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne. North East Drive Mobility (NEDM), an NHS department accredited by the charity Driving Mobility, assessed Terry twice for his driving capabilities and recommended, from a clinical point of view, that he used public transport instead. 

As Terry volunteers for the RDA and has several part-time educational jobs, it was essential he could remain mobile especially as he felt isolated and lonely when at home. However, it was taking him over two hours each way to reach the stables using the bus and metro, whereas a taxi could get him there in 10 minutes. The issue was the cost of taxis – Terry couldn’t afford it and needed a solution as the situation was impacting on all his volunteering and paid roles. HMAS at North East Drive Mobility found the answer.

Funded by the Department for Transport, HMAS has recently been launched to provide advice on alternative accessible transport choices if driving is not an option. Part of the Government’s inclusive strategy, HMAS is a free information service provided through a national website and 15 of the 21 Driving Mobility Centres. Each centre has qualified experts and Clinicians who advise on all aspects of inclusive travel from accessible buses, coaches and trains through to rights as a disabled passenger and journey planning. 

Terry was one of the first people to benefit from this service as Paula George, NEDM Hubs Lead, explains: 

“With Terry’s approval, I asked Age UK to perform a benefits check for him.  At the time he was not claiming any benefits and was unaware that he would be entitled to anything. Age UK looked into his situation and confirmed that he qualified for help with the travel costs of getting to the stables.  It wasn’t so much the expense of getting there, it was the time it was taking to get there and back. This meant Terry was always risking being late for his other part time jobs. This funding would help with the cost of taxis when he was pushed for time which meant he could continue volunteering at the stables and fulfilling his passion for helping children and adults with disabilities.”

Terry was ‘shocked’ that he qualified for any help. It was only through pro-active enquiries by the HMAS team that this travel allowance became a reality. Terry says: “Being able to volunteer at the stables is so important for my rehab as it keeps my brain active and engaged. I have many yard responsibilities including tacking up the horses and helping disabled children to ride. Over the years I’ve worked with many young and older people with special needs and continue to volunteer for charities following my retirement from a career in education.”

Terry concludes:

“Being involved with charities such as RDA is a lifeline for my mental health and wellbeing. Not only has Hubs solved my transport issues, it has also made me aware of other services from Age UK and helped me access more brain injury therapy. Thank you, Paula, I’m so grateful for the guidance you gave me. I received some good advice on taxis and as I don’t cope well on the phone, it was good to speak face-to-face with a professional. Having the extra money for taxis means I’m not worried about metros and buses being cancelled. The Hubs service will make a huge difference to my life.”