Do you struggle to get to appointments at the hospital, doctors or health centre? If so Miles of Smiles might be able to help.
Miles of Smiles is a community transport scheme operating for use by residents of Tameside, it was established in 2006 to reduce the number of missed appointments. We have a team of volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles to take people to and from health and wellbeing appointments. A befriending service is offered as an integral part of the service and allows passengers the opportunity to share their concerns about the appointment.
We arrange for a volunteer driver to come to your door, escort you to the car and take you to your appointment. If you wish, the volunteer will wait with you but the volunteer driver won't go into your appointment with you. When your appointment is finished, the volunteer will take you home.
You cannot use Miles of Smiles if you are:
- Eligible for the ambulance service
- Able to use public transport
- Have use of a vehicle
You can use Miles of Smiles if you have no other way of getting to health related appointments and you have been accepted as a member of Miles of Smiles.
How much does it cost?
Miles of Smiles drivers are volunteers, who give their time for free. They use their own vehicles and are not taxi drivers. Passengers pay drivers a fixed rate to help cover expenses. We inform you how much your journey will cost prior to your journey.
If you are going into hospital for a procedure and will be home much later in the day (or on a different day), a driver will drop you off at hospital and then come back to pick you up later in the day (or a different day if you are staying overnight). As you are making two trips, the cost of the journey will be double.
Your volunteer driver will wait at the destination for up to 90 minutes. Should your appointment last longer than this, your volunteer driver will return to collect you later and there will be an additional charge.
There is an annual membership fee of £10 per person and there is a minimum journey charge of £2.40.
Booking and availability
Miles of Smiles takes bookings on a first come first served basis so you should phone us as soon as you know about your appointment. Ideally we need at least a week's notice but, where possible, we will try to accommodate late bookings.
Miles of Smiles never guarantees that it will provide a driver. Drivers are volunteers and sometimes there may be no driver available for your journey. There may also be occasions where your journey has to be cancelled but this will be in emergencies only, e.g. car breakdowns, illness or bad weather.
Limits to services
The service operates Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm; passengers should be back in their homes before 5pm. Miles of Smiles does not accept responsibility for getting passengers home after this time.
As our drivers are volunteers and use their own cars, we do not transport anyone with incontinence, anyone under 18 unless accompanied by an adult, or anyone with severe dementia or who is very confused. For these people an ambulance place is available - please contact your doctor.
Please do not smoke or eat in the driver's car.
All drivers have an ID badge which they wear. If you are unsure about any driver who comes to your house, please call our office.
If you need to cancel your transport, please telephone 0161 622 2090 as soon as you can.
A friend or relative is welcome to accompany you on your journey, but please state this when booking your transport.
How to join
Contact Miles of Smiles office and speak to the car scheme administrator, who will take your details, check your eligibility and send you a membership pack. Once accepted you will be registered and may start to use Miles of Smiles. There is an annual membership fee of £10.
Wheelchairs and accessible vehicles
Please ensure when registering that you inform us if you are a wheelchair user. Some of our volunteer drivers are able to accommodate wheelchair users, but it is a requirement that you are able to transfer without assistance.
We also have an accessible people carrier with an electric winch that enables people to travel without the need to transfer. It is essential that you advise us of your requirements when booking.
Miles of Smiles is funded to support people that have difficulty accessing or using public transport to attend health related appointments. The scheme is unique in Tameside as it provides a door to door service ensuring that passengers arrive on time with minimum stress and anxiety.
Some of our Miles of Smiles customers have said:
I have used Miles of Smiles for my hospital appointments and they have been absolutely wonderful.
Miles of Smiles provide a first class service for all my medical appointments, All drivers and office staff are polite and helpful. A credit to the service
I could not manage to get to my appointments without Miles of Smiles, thank you for all your help.
For further information on Miles of Smiles or to become a member:
Contact: Patricia Morris, car scheme administrator, Tel: 0161 622 2090; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here if you would like to become a Miles of Smiles volunteer driver.