Lincolnshire life-saving charity faces extra £20,000 fuel bill to keep responders on road

Report by Jonathan Brown

A life-saving charity in Lincolnshire is facing a bill of an extra £20,000 because of rocketing fuel prices - just to keep its trained responders on the roads.The LIVES charity sends its army of volunteers to more than 12,000 incidents every year - but soaring prices at the pumps are putting extra pressure on their resources.Now it is feared that volunteers who deliver a lifeline to remote communities may cut their hours in order to lessen the impact of the extra costs.

After 11 years and 2,200 call outs, volunteer responder, Bill Barber still spends his week behind the wheel tending to everything from heart attacks to strokes.

"With Lincolnshire being such a rural community LIVES are going to be the first on scene and we could be there for quite a while in people's time of most need."

"For me to fill my car up now we are looking at £75 to £80 a time. So it could be something even more of us are going to have to look into not doing and is that is going to impact our response?"

For more than half a century the Lives charity has been supporting rural areas which might otherwise face long ambulance waiting times. Credit: YTV News

The LIVES charity attend 999 calls using staff paramedics and an army of 300 volunteers who, like Laura Willoughby, opt to pay for their own fuel while on duty.

She said: "People aren't going to want to put expense claims into Lives. If you normally log on three or four times a week you might be reducing that to one just so you are able to but then that is to the detriment of everybody that needs a responder."

Nikki Cooke, the Chief Executive of LIVES, said the current situation means there are lots of extra funds they need to raise in a difficult fund-raising environment.

"It becomes a question of responding to medical emergencies which is the absolutely core to what we do. Are there other things that perhaps we would like to do that we might not be able to?"

It comes almost three months since the government cut fuel duty by five pence a litre while prices continue to rise.

In a statement a government spokesperson said: "The 5p fuel duty cut is the biggest ever cut to fuel duty rates and will save the average car driver around £100. As a key part of our support to help people with rising costs of living, it's crucial we ensure that it's being passed on everywhere."

It's feared without urgent intervention those who could pay the highest price for rising costs could be the very isolated patients they are trying to reach.