A Croydon charity has been “devastated” after it had one of its specially-adapted mini-buses stolen and left, burnt out and gutted.
The Garwood Foundation, which operates a special school and activities centre in South Croydon, exists to promote the care, welfare, interest, treatment and advancement of education of adults and children having cerebral palsy and other profound, multiple, acquired or other disabilities.
The stolen minibus “was an invaluable lifeline for individuals with disabilities in our community”, the charity says.
The vehicle was a bit of a workhorse for the charity, collecting people for their classes and activities, and taking them on weekly outings. The minibus could accommodate up to four wheelchair users, plus four other passengers.
“It enabled them to access their day centre, doctor appointments, to pick up prescriptions and other crucial errands that they cannot manage on their own or through public transport due to the severity of their disabilities,” a spokesperson for the Foundation said.
“We are borrowing a small minibus whenever it’s available, but it can only carry two wheelchair users and 4 walking clients.
“This has added extra challenges to our daily operations, requiring our drivers to pick up an additional client each who is not on their usual route, leading to delays in their journey times. Consequently, clients arrive late at the centre and some have to leave early to ensure the driver returns in time for the regular round.
“And if the small minibus is unavailable, our drivers must perform a second pick-up and return home, leading to shorter days for this group.”
Hiring a minibus is not a viable solution since the minibuses used by the Garwood Foundation are specially adapted, with a tail lift and fitted clamps for wheelchair users, ensuring their safety and comfort.
“Our goal is to purchase a new, fully equipped minibus that can cater to the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, offering wheelchair accessibility and specialised seating arrangements,” the Foundation said as it launched a special appeal for donations.
“By securing a new minibus, we will be able to resume our vital transportation services, ensuring our clients can access essential services and engage in meaningful activities at their day centre without disruptions.”
They are also asking that everyone who reads this article uses the power of social media to share their cause with friends, family and colleagues “to raise awareness about our fundraising campaign and its importance in empowering the lives of people with disabilities”.
Any local businesses interested in sponsoring or working with the Garwood Foundation can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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