Elderly residents in Tiptree can now get a free ride to any vaccination centre in Colchester as part of a new Cab and Jab campaign.
Matt Malones, 49, of Malones Executive Private Hire, is offering round trips for vulnerable people who have trouble getting to and from their vaccination appointments.
He has completed over a hundred trips, the first of which took place on 28th January.
Mr Malones came up with the idea during lockdown, when he found himself sitting at home with plenty of time on his hands.
He said: “Usually as a business I do between five hundred and six hundred airport runs every year. Last year if I say did twenty, I would be exaggerating. It has been very difficult.
“I thought it is pointless having a vehicle sitting there doing nothing. What I decided to do was firstly offer a free service to all elderly residents of Tiptree to be able to get their vaccination done in Tiptree.”
Unfortunately, the Tiptree Medical Centre weren’t doing any vaccinations, so he had to amend the campaign and offer trips to Colchester instead. But the cost of a 24-mile round trip from Tiptree to Colchester was a hurdle.
He said: “As a company you are entitled to charge going, waiting then coming back. That could be as much as £60. For an elderly person to be subjected to that was a lot of money. So what I decided to do was offer a round trip for £18. “
Local business around Tiptree, however, loved the idea and decided to support him by paying the cost of the trips so that the elderly would get the service for free.
Photo credit: Facebook
There are no direct buses from Tiptree to Colchester, so Mr Malones is sparing the elderly the inconvenience of public transport, especially when many of them have reduced mobility.
He said: “Some of them have walking sticks, some are in a wheelchair.
“To be subjective to come out in the cold from their house, where they’ve perhaps been isolating since last March has been quite daunting, because obviously they haven’t really been out.
“So I had to help them in and out of the car and make sure they get to their front door okey.”
To ensure the safety of the passengers, Mr Malones gets tested every Friday free of charge thanks to the Tiptree Volunteers Group.
He has also went the extra mile to install all kinds of protective measures in his seven seater.
He added: “I have configured my vehicle so that the occupant sits right at the very back. That is well over two meters away from me.
“I have put a dividing screen between the front driver and the passenger in the front, so there is no way of getting any sort of droplets from respiratory issues like sneezing or coughing.
All protective measures are in place Credit:Facebook
“I have also put in place sanitizers to use inside and obviously masks must be worn at all times. “
Mr Malones’ campaign received the kind support of both family and community members, which made him feel like a “mini celebrity”.
He said: ”If I go up to the High Street in Tiptree people are all saying ‘Matt, you are doing a fabulous job, thank you so much.‘
“To help someone else in need is the most rewarding thing anybody can do. It’s so overwhelming, and it’s been lovely to be able to do it. “
If you want to book a ride with Matt, you can call 07725 658105.