Our blogs have always been an open view into Hiyacar so we wanted to continue that theme as we potentially pass the peak of the COVID-19 but are a long way from normality. Here is a short read on how lockdown has impacted Hiyacar and our NHS initiative.
When lockdown was announced, travel was restricted, and rightly so, to essential trips only. This obviously had a huge negative impact on our regular business. Graeme and I set up Hiyacar to put cars to better use. The constant flow of bad news on social media from NHS workers who were scared for not only their own health but for the health of others when travelling to and from work due to packed trains and tubes was overwhelming. We dug into this more, we saw NHS staff were being attacked for their ID badges and having their bikes stolen from outside of hospitals. The people who are putting their own lives at risk to save our lives should not have to worry about getting to and from work safely. It saddened us and enraged us. We had access to thousands of cars and really wanted to help. On top of that, our members’ cars were now being used even less than they were before. We wanted to be genuinely helpful. We have been clear that we do not want people using Hiyacar for non-essential trips, but we wanted to be there for people who really needed us to get their food or their medicine or do a weekly supply drop off to a vulnerable person and we wanted to be able to help NHS workers travel to and from work safely.
After reaching out to our car owners we had a good amount who felt the same as we did. Waiving their car rental fee was not even up for discussion. They did it wholeheartedly. We did the same and waived our commission and also made the call to help pay towards their insurance where we possibly could. Our only goal was to be useful and if we could help 1 NHS worker not have to worry about commuting to and from a hospital then we would be happy. The uptake has been incredible which really highlights what a big problem safe travel currently is. We have now surpassed 1300 free car hire days taken by NHS workers in London.
At the start of lockdown, we were matchmaking NHS workers with car owners near them but soon demand was so high that popular areas soon had no cars left. We could have stopped, happy that we had played a small part in helping people. But we had more cars in other areas. More could be done. The team was not satisfied by a long way, so we have been rounding up cars from owners in other areas and moving them directly into hospital car parks, making car-sharing accessible to as many of the incredible NHS workers as possible. We have cars at 2 Imperial Hospital locations (St Marys and Charing X), Queens Hospital and over in Surrey Downs Health Care, with more to come.
The work the NHS is doing is amazing. From those on the front line, to those behind the scenes who are making sure they have supplies, equipment, clean facilities and the medicines needed. We must not forget that they are also human. They also have families that they care about and who care about them and having access to a car has given them some peace of mind that they are safer during this time. This situation has brought up how important cars can be in today’s society. Underutilised cars are still the enemy and we need to reduce car ownership but whilst social distancing is so important, cars that are used in the right way can bring safety, security and peace of mind. Now as a small business we can only do so much. This is where some small positives can come out of this horrendous situation. Initiatives like #WeAllMove where mobility companies from around the world are coming together in one place to keep the people moving who cannot afford to stop.
If you have a car and would like to help our NHS initiative please list your car and reach out to us. The more cars we have, the more NHS workers we can help in your community.