Travel Assistance Scheme
Access Lewisham is an accessible and affordable Travel Assistance Scheme for Lewisham residents who have difficulty or are unable to use public transport.
Volunteer drivers and passenger assistants use minibuses and cars to support people to attend college, day centres, medical appointments, to access groups and community activities. We also provide one off journey requests to visit friends and family no matter where they are in the UK. In addition, volunteers can escort people shopping and assist people in their wheelchairs.
How to Access this Service
Access Lewisham is available to all residents of the Borough of Lewisham however requests for support must come via social services or other statutory agencies such as
- Health service professionals
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and other organisations
- Church representatives
Anyone wishing to make a referral must complete the form below and be able to confirm that the individual is not capable of using public transport without support. Please contact Stephen Oldfield Stephen@vslonline.org.uk 020 8291 1747, if you would like more information or advice on completing the form.
Once the referral is accepted by the VSL, the service user can call Access Lewisham to request a trip. These can be regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly trips or one off requests. It is best to give a minimum of 5 days’ notice before the trip to allow time for a driver to be found from our volunteer team. The VSL endeavours to meet all requests, but it is not always possible to accommodate all journey requests, particularly if these are made at short notice.
A charge is made to cover the cost of petrol, volunteers time is given freely. This is based on the distance of the entire round trip from the drivers’ house to collect the service user, take them to the appointment and return home. A minimum charge of £5.50 is made for trips of 10 miles or less, all other journeys are calculated on VSL’s mileage rate and will be agreed with you in advance.
The VSL befriending scheme covers the whole borough of Lewisham and matches volunteers with service users based on shared interests, the individual’s needs, and the volunteers’ availability.
Initially a volunteer will visit a service user for an hour each week, on a day and time suitable to both. However, as a relationship develops, a volunteer may visit a service user for longer.
Service users are usually referred to us by Social Services, health services or other professional bodies, but families and individuals can also contact us directly if they want to arrange befriending visits.
Our service users are from all walks of life and may face a wide range of issues. For example, a volunteer may befriend an elderly man who has been bereaved, a younger woman who is housebound through disability, or anyone who is isolated by low self-esteem or with few friends or family and would benefit from a friendly visitor.
Telephone befriending is aimed at service users who prefer a call over a visit. Calls can range from 5-40 minutes once a week. The volunteer telephone befrienders make their calls from VSL offices. Volunteers usually start with 1 befriendee with the option of calling more service users as time goes on.
Befriending and telephone befriending involves a minimum commitment of six months from the volunteer who will need to undergo a DBS (police check) through the VSL.
If you would like to find out more click on the task description tab below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VSL place volunteers in group befriending sessions. One of our groups takes place in the Pepys Resource centre, Deptford on alternating Wednesdays between 1.30 and 3.30. The group is for older, socially isolated people living in the Deptford Challenge Trust Area and provides a welcoming space where to play board games, chat and do chair exercise or arts and crafts. We are looking for volunteers from Deptford, New Cross and Lewisham who enjoy communicating or have a skill they can share with the group. Please read flyer and contact Bettina or Sandra on 0208 2911 747 or email email@example.com
Our DIY & Decorating Scheme matches volunteers for one-off tasks to help service users in Lewisham. Requests vary greatly and we need volunteers with a wide variety of talents who are willing to be called upon occasionally.
Can you put up a shelf? Assemble a flat-pack? Fix a loose hinge? Tile a bathroom wall? Or paint a hallway?
DIY & Decorating volunteers will need to undergo a DBS (police check) through the VSL
If you would like to find out more click on the task description below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For example, you may escort a service user around a Supermarket once a fortnight or accompany them on a trip to the coast, pushing their wheelchair on your arrival (for which training will be provided).
Escorting may also involve helping service users on and off of buses. Whilst the volunteer is not expected to support the service user’s weight you can provide a steadying arm and offer reassurance.
Volunteer escorts will need to undergo a DBS (police check) through the VSL.
If you would like to find out more click the task description tab below or email email@example.com
The Gardening scheme operates from the beginning of March until the end of October and assists people in Lewisham. We match volunteers with service users for general gardening maintenance. Tasks might include: pruning, weeding, mowing a lawn, trimming a hedge or planting seeds, plants or bulbs.
Volunteers are helping hands and not necessarily qualified gardeners. VSL has all necessary basic gardening tools, like lawnmower, spade, fork and trowels.
Service users include elderly people who can’t manage their gardens anymore, people with limited mobility or physical disability, or with a mental health difficulties where using their garden space could improve the quality of life.
Each service user receives a one off visit after an initial garden assessment for approximately two hours and can then request a monthly visit, as this service is very popular. When possible service users are encouraged to work alongside volunteers, and enjoy their gardens.
We ask for a donation of £15 per session where service users can afford this.
Please see the map to the right for our catchment area. If you are not sure if you fall within our catchment area, or live on our borders, please contact us on 020 8291 1747 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
How to Access this Service
Service users are usually referred to us by social services, health services or other professional bodies, but families can also contact us directly. Individuals can also refer themselves. When making referrals please complete the form as fully as possible, adding a list of tools that service users have, and also if there are any pets.
You can complete the referral form below and email to email@example.com ,or if you prefer you can call the Volunteer Coordinator on 020 8291 1747 and give this information over the phone.
Do you want to volunteer?
If you wish to volunteer for the Gardening scheme, then please view the flyer below.
Mental Health Projects
The VSL’s Stepping Stones in Lewisham programme is a FREE 8 week happiness and wellbeing programme of workshops for people who are dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety and stress.
The aim of the programme is to provide people with ideas, exercises and support to enable them to become happier, move forward with their lives, and improve their mental well-being.
Volunteers act as mentors to participants, meeting for an hour after each workshop, to support participants in their action planning and taking steps towards their personal goals.
The programme runs several times throughout the year in local community venues with mentoring sessions taking place in the afternoon or early evening.
No experience is necessary as training on mentoring skills is provided before each programme, but an ability to listen and support without judgement is essential.
Mentoring volunteers will need to undergo a DBS (police check) through the VSL.
If you would like to find out more click the task description tab below, or email Juliafcoggins@gmail.com.
The VSL runs drop-ins within the borough of Lewisham for people with severe and enduring mental health issues. VSL drop-ins are run in partnership with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
The aim of the drop-ins is to promote social inclusion and reduce isolation. The drop-ins are for people to socialise, connect with others, or just sit, relax and read quietly.
Volunteers work in teams to run drop-in sessions, socialising with service users and creating a welcoming, warm and friendly environment. No experience is necessary but an ability to socialise and listen without judgement is essential. Mental health first aid training and monthly supervision and support sessions are provided.
You can volunteer on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Details of drop- ins are listed below:
Monday and Friday from 9.45am - 1.15pm at the Lee Centre
1 Aislibie Road, Lee, SE12 8QH
Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 12.45-4.15pm or Saturday 9.45-1.15pm
at the Compass Centre 32-34 Watson Street, Deptford, SE8 4AU
Thursdays 6.45-9.15pm at the Grove Centre
4 Jews Walk, Sydenham, SE26 6PL
If you would like to find out more click on the task description tab below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are very much a part of the team at the VSL. All our receptionists are volunteers, as well as many of those helping out behind the scenes, including administrative, publicity, finance and fundraising volunteers. We frequently attend fetes and hold small scale events, so we always need people to help us sort goods and organise our storage areas, as well as attend the events.
Office volunteers usually have a regular time they help out each week perhaps a whole day or a morning or afternoon once a week. Office experience is not essential, as our staff can provide you with training and support, but you will need good communication skills and be able to follow instructions.
If you would like to find out more about becoming one of our team of office volunteers or helping us to sort donated goods click the task description tab below or email: email@example.com.
From time to time the VSL receives a request that we cannot categorise. For example, we sometimes need volunteers with language skills to help us communicate with a service user, or a sighted volunteer to help a blind service user with correspondence.
In the past we have been asked for someone to help a service user set up their video recorder, and a service user requested a volunteer who could help with needle work.
If you are interested in the challenge of responding to one-off or unusual requests, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or ring 020 8291 1747 to speak to a coordinator.
School helpers volunteer in schools (currently primary schools only) in the Forest Hill & Sydenham area. Tasks can vary greatly but will involve helping teaching staff to support children in their allocated tasks. Volunteers might be supervising cookery, spelling, maths or reading stories to a group of children.
Volunteers need to make a minimum commitment of two terms or six months, attending at least a morning or afternoon each week during term time.
School helper volunteers will need to undergo a DBS (police check) through the VSL.
If you would like to find out more click on the task description below or email email@example.com.
Our shopping scheme helps service users in the Forest Hill & Sydenham area, who are unable to do their own food shopping. Volunteers usually shop for service users once a week or once a fortnight (depending on the service user’s needs).
It would be useful to drive, but not essential, as some service users don’t require a large amount of shopping.
Shopping for a service user involves a minimum commitment of three months and no experience is necessary; however an ability to communicate effectively is essential as this role includes taking instructions.
Shopping volunteers will need to undergo a DBS (police check) through the VSL.
If you would like to find out more click on the task description tab below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board of Trustees oversee the running of VSL and are ultimately responsible for the Organisation. We have a diverse and talented board of trustees, however, we are always looking for professional people to join us and help us flourish.
Perhaps your talents lie in IT, publicity, fundraising, events, finance, volunteer management or another relevant professional area? If so, we would like to hear from you.
Contact the CEO Evelyn Brady on 020 8291 1747 or email email@example.com.
The VSL wheelchair Assistant scheme matches volunteers with service users living in the Forest Hill & Sydenham area. Volunteers are given initial wheelchair pushing training and are then matched with a service user to take them out in their wheelchairs once a week or once a fortnight (according to the service users needs).
Our service users are from all walks of life and may face a wide range of issues. For example a young person with a disability or an older person recovery from an illness or surgery, they may want to go shopping or to the library, or maybe visit a local park.
Being a Wheelchair Assistant involves a minimum commitment of 6 months from the volunteer who will need to undergo a DBS check (police check) through the VSL.
If you would like to find out more click on the task description tab below or email firstname.lastname@example.org .