ALD Automotive is giving key workers from the North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals free use of a fleet of 33 vehicles through Karshare’s free community car scheme.
The 30 cars, two vans and a minibus, will be used to help key workers commute more safely, distribute supplies (including PPE) and support the community, said ALD Automotive.
Tim Laver, ALD’s managing director, explained: “As part of the Bristol community we all wanted to do something to help during this time of crisis, and providing vehicles was an obvious starting point. We therefore teamed up with Karshare to assist with the excellent work they were already doing in the Bristol area.”
The vast majority of the ALD vehicles will be used to help key workers get to work, because public transport services have been cut and social distancing rules restrict the sharing of lifts to work.
The first vehicles have already been handed over to staff working within the two local NHS Trusts, which manage hospitals including Southmead Hospital, Cossham Hospital, the new UWE Nightingale Hospital, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and Weston General Hospital.
Due to the volumes involved, and high levels of delivery driver absences, the ALD cars will also be used to transport essential supplies to health and care services including PPE, food and toiletries, it said.
Laver continued: “We are proud to be able to help NHS staff and other key workers throughout this challenging time and Karshare has been a great help in this process.
“We hope that the vehicles will make life a little easier for them, enabling them to do their vital work in hospitals and around the community.”
Karen De Freitas, who recently moved to Bristol, has started working for Care 1st and is using one of the ALD cars to go house-to-house. She said: “I recently moved to the area and wasn’t able to sort out a car out before lockdown started.
“I’m doing domiciliary care within the community and having access to a car means I can now provide more care to those in need in the community. I’m grateful to both Karshare and ALD; it’s a fantastic scheme and will make a real difference for many people during the crisis.”
Karshare founder Andy Hibbert added: “We’re already partnered with Bristol Airport and QBE Insurance where we run a service renting out people’s cars when they go on holiday.
“We started thinking about how we could make a difference in the current situation and the principle is exactly the same.
“The average car lies unused for 96% of the time, even more so when offices and schools are shut. It seems like a waste when there are many charities and locals within the community that need transportation support right now.
“We were in discussions with ALD about how we could work together before the crisis emerged, and their response to support the Karshare community with more cars in Bristol has been incredible.”
The work with Karshare is just one of a number of initiatives that ALD is undertaking to support organisations and charities in and around the Bristol area.
ALD has already donated £40,000 to two NHS charities; The North Bristol NHS Trust (including Southmead Hospital, Frenchay Hospital and the new, temporary UWE Nightingale Hospital) and the University Hospitals (including Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and Weston General Hospital).
A further £10,000 has been donated to FareShare South West which will help pay for 40,000 meals to children and families in need, plus the use of five VW Transporters which will be used to distribute essential food boxes across Bristol, Devon and Cornwall.