The Liftshare project in Masham, launched in May last year, is moving up a gear to help to improve transport links, build stronger communities, reduce isolation and help with regular employment travel.

Sharron Cooney Justine Brooksbank and the Bishop of Ripon

The County Council is funding a project officer based at the community office to accelerate the scheme, to coincide with National Liftshare Week from 1 to 7 October. Masham Area Liftshare offers a free journey matching service to people who live, work or travel in and around the Mashamshire district.

The council views this community transport initiative, which enables those needing to travel in the same direction to go with each other, as a pilot scheme for other parts of the county. Liftshare project officer Sharron Cooney said: “I am organising drop-in sessions and I hope to see all the businesses in the area in September and October to get more people to sign up. The aim is to assist with lifts both frequent and infrequent so people enjoy the secondary benefits of reduced isolation and loneliness and increased employment opportunities.’’

Registration drop in sessions will be held at Masham Community Office on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm to 2.50pm, starting on 18 September. Village drop-in sessions will be announced shortly. The villages in the district included in the scheme are Snape, Well, Low Burton, Fearby, Healy, Swinton, Ilton, Ellingstring, Ellington, Kirkby Malzeard, Grewelthorpe, Mickley, North Stainley and West Tanfield.

The scheme has been given a boost by the Bishop of Ripon, Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, agreeing to become its patron. She said: “I am delighted to be patron of the Masham Liftshare scheme, a fantastic community initiative. Caring and sharing is important as we seek to strengthen relationships, combat isolation and do our bit to respond to climate change. Every little bit counts, and I hope this sets an example that others will confidently follow.’’

Justine Brooksbank, the county council’s assistant chief executive, who lives in the Masham area, said: “We know from a community office transport survey some time ago and more recent feedback that people locally want to go to towns and villages nearby for hospital visits, shopping or socialising and others want to travel for college or work, but there isn’t any public transport that fits and they don’t have access to a car.

“Others, who have cars, are going to or near the same places and would be happy to give a lift. So Liftshare puts the two together. It works several ways, but its aim is to get people together who make the same trips. It’s a good way of meeting new people living locally. You can choose to car share as often or as little as you like. It doesn’t have to be on a regular basis. It also helps to cut travel costs and ease parking problems.’’ 

County Councillor Margaret Atkinson, who represents Masham and Fountains, said: “In the countryside there are fewer buses available and some residents do not have access to a car, yet they need to travel to towns and villages for doctors, shopping, work and college, for example.  If they can be teamed up with someone from their locality who is travelling to the same area, there is a saving on travelling costs and parking problems, making it a win-win situation.’’

People who want to register a request or offer a lift can visit https://www.masham.liftshare.com or contact the Masham office on 01765 680200. Help can be given for those not confident on a computer.

To find a lift share, users register and input their details, destination and time of departure, and how flexible on time they are. The database finds other people making the same or similar journeys and puts them in touch via email.

For more information call Mashamshire Community Office on 01765 680200, email: liftshare@visitmasham.com or visit https://www.masham.liftshare.com or https://www.facebook.com/Mashamliftsharecom-211631076158225/?modal=admin_todo_tour

This story was published 4 September 2018