The Prime Minister has today, 20 December, recognised David Gibson, from Glasgow, for providing free travel assistance for veterans.
David is a taxi driver who established ‘Fares4Free’, a taxi scheme which provides free travel assistance for veterans in order to combat social isolation. After hearing the experiences of friends who are ex-Forces members struggling to travel to health appointments and facing loneliness, he began offering free lifts to veterans to enable them to easily access services. Since launching the scheme in April 2016, ‘Fares4Free’ has now supported over 450 veterans on more than 5,000 individual journeys worth the value of £150,000 in taxi fares. David runs the initiative across Scotland with support from 22 taxi companies, as well as from local councils and over 30 partner charities, such as ‘Combat Stress’, to identify those who require assistance and provide them with further support. The charity is also now providing assistance for elderly individuals and people with dementia to help ease isolation and provide respite for carers.
David is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. David was presented with his award by his local MP, Paul Masterton.
Mr Masterton also lodged an Early Day Motion in Westminster for David and the team to recognise their success in the House of Commons. “EDMs” allow MPs to raise or highlight important work in their own constituency on the national stage. The EDM placed for “Fares4Free” reads as follows:
“That this House congratulates East Renfrewshire based charity Fares 4 Free, which provides free transportation for veterans, on being awarded the Prime Minister's Point of Light Award; understands that the Points of Light Award recognises outstanding individuals and volunteers; notes that Fares 4 Free will be the UK's 1079th Points of Light recipient; congratulations David Gibson and all his team for giving 4500 trips to 470 individuals at the value of £150,000 covering 39 council regions; notes that Fares 4 Free help veterans with PTSD, anxiety and depression engage with services like Combat Stress and Veterans First Point whilst also helping older veterans access dementia day care services; further acknowledges that Fares 4 Free are part of the Unforgotten Forces group of Charities led by Poppy Scotland; and that this House wishes Fares 4 Free all the very best as they continue their vital work in 2019.”
In a personal letter to David, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The success of your pioneering initiative ‘Fares4Free’ is a testament to your remarkable commitment to ensuring that veterans across Scotland have a strong support network. You should feel enormously proud of inspiring so many other taxi drivers to provide invaluable support for Armed Forces communities who have made great sacrifices in the service of our country.”
Paul Masterton, MP for East Renfrewshire, said:
“It is fantastic to see such an important East Renfrewshire organisation being recognised by the Prime Minister. David is an incredible, selfless human being and quite simply, if it wasn’t for the Fares4Free team, hundreds of veterans across Scotland would see their quality of life substantially reduced.
They are not only a free lift to a vital appointment, but an answer to the increasingly worrying rise of isolation and depression. David is a credit to the community and a great success story. I’m delighted that he and his team have received this richly deserved award.”
David Gibson said:
“I am pleased to accept the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award on behalf of the many drivers and taxi firms around the country, who give up their time and income to help us help veterans reach essential services and beat Social Isolation one mile at a time. This will encourage us to grow the service and to seek new partnerships. These partners provide a life-changing safety net that stays in place ready to assist our most vulnerable veterans.
“Please, Don’t wait for November to remember.”
David is the 1079th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.
Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.