New Zealand Red Cross has secured four new vehicles for its community transport programme in greater Christchurch. The new fleet will help more people access community healthcare, while also providing much-needed social opportunities.

About 20,000 people across New Zealand use Red Cross’ community transport every year. Nearly a quarter of these are in Christchurch, where demand for the service has been high since the 2011 earthquake.

The service helps elderly and other vulnerable people get to community appointments, like the doctor. However, it’s more than just a free ride across town. Along the way, our friendly volunteers provide social interaction for people who are often isolated and can be quite lonely – something that’s extra important in post-quake Christchurch, given the disruptions on the road and with local infrastructure.

Struggling to meet the growing demand for the service, Red Cross secured new – and extra – vehicles to help more effectively in the greater Christchurch region.

The new look fleet includes a 12-seater vehicle, a ten-seater vehicle equipped with a wheelchair hoist and two four wheel drives. The vehicles will not only enable Red Cross to help more people, but can also be used to help during serious natural events and emergency situations.

Red Cross recovery outreach team leader Jana Sladka says the 40-strong team of hard-working and dedicated volunteers has shuttled more than 4000 passengers around greater Christchurch during the past 12 months, and the new fleet would help them continue this good work.

“We found ourselves having to turn people away because we were operating at capacity. The new fleet means we’re able to help a greater number of people live a better life,” she says.

If you think you or a family member might benefit from our community transport service, call your local Red Cross service centre or ring 0800 RED CROSS (733 276) and ask about community transport in your area. They will advise whether you need a referral from a health professional.