A small Preston bus service is protecting the city's elderly population by taking to the supermarkets to do their weekly shops for them.

Preston Community Transport, a charity providing travel for those who can't use public transport, launched the scheme as a way to help those in the city who cannot leave their homes due to self-isolation rules imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the users are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s and it has seen the charity carry out 20 shops a week so that they stay protected in their own homes.

But for the team, it is also about going further than this, with a list of 400 people consistently being rung up simply for a chat about how they are getting on during the countrywide lockdown.

Former British Army soldier Dave Meggison is the general manager of Preston CT. Speaking to LancsLive, he said: "We're a small charity where we try to get people from social isolation and out and about. Our volunteers take them shopping, on day trips. Some just want to come along for the bus ride just to have a chat.

"Over the last few weeks our service was being reduced because of the contact rules and social distancing, so our volunteers did a ring around asking people how they were getting on and if they were getting help with their shopping. For some it's just about talking to someone.

"I've had a lady on this morning saying I was the first voice she had heard this week.

"Lots of national agencies are helping out but when it's your own community you get that urge to help people out.

"We just make sure people aren't left on their own."

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Since the UK went into a national lockdown on Monday, March 23, Preston CT has been left without many of its drivers.

But shopping for those in need who cannot leave their homes continues through two main drivers, Barry Masheter and Martin Alston.

"I take the orders over the phone, the driver does the shopping and takes it to their homes," 55-year-old Dave explained.

"But there's 400 people I ring regularly on a daily basis. We do it for a chat, to listen, so we don't miss anybody out.

"A lot of people have family which is great but it's just about that informal connection with others."

Preston CT, which was founded in 1988, also runs the Community Cars programme through volunteer Julie Pole, which takes people in Preston, South Ribble, Silverdale, Lancaster, and Morecambe to essential appointments such as with their GP or their dentist.

Dave, who has worked at Preston CT for 16 years and originally hails from Hartlepool, said: "Some people have to go to regular appointments for blood tests, to make sure medicines are okay. We can't stop that unless doctors say it doesn't need to be done.

"This is going to go on for a while.

"The longer it goes on I think the more we will need to help. We'll keep going and keep ringing.

"I also just want to say the trustees have been really supportive and paying all the staff throughout this. They continue to support and are helping me out."