You’ll be seeing the oddest of things driving round through the streets of Newark — a little pink tuk tuk.
The vehicle has been donated to the Rosie May Foundation to help its outreach work with the vulnerable and anxious.
The pink tuk tuk service is an extension of one that already operates in Bingham, where the Rosie May Foundation is based.
When covid 19 struck, Rosie, the original pink tuk tuk in Bingham, stood idle as events were cancelled. It was then decided that some cheer could be brought.
A network of furloughed volunteers was set up to deliver essential items to the vulnerable and self-isolating as it was realised very quickly that the human interaction of a doorstep chat was important as a loaf of bread or a prescription.
Ruby, an electric tuk tuk, will now offer cake and doorstep chats for lonely people in Newark, fish and chip Fridays for the isolated, social tables at cafes to reduce social anxiety, school visits to promote well-being and positive mental health, and social events to re-engage rural communities.
The Rosie May Foundation was set up by Graham and Mary Storrie in memory of their daughter Rosie May, 10, who was murdered in 2003.
Rosie May was performing at Newark Palace Theatre in her first professional pantomime, in December, 2003, at the time of her death.
Graham said: “Launching Ruby our little Pink Tuk Tuk is very poignant for us because Rosie May was performing in her first professional pantomime when she was brutally murdered.
“The Newark community were so very supportive during those dark days, and it is so amazing that we now have this opportunity to give back to Newark, a place where Rosie May spent the last and happiest days of her short life doing what she loved.”
Mary said: “The impact of the pandemic has been in people’s mental health — high levels of chronic isolation and social exclusion.
“We want to be able to help with that and lift people’s spirits in a fun way — bring a smile to people’s faces.
“There is still anxiety and Ruby the pink tuk tuk can help with that whether it be elderly people who don’t yet feel it safe to reconnect, socially-isolating mums, schoolchildren who are anxious about returning to school in September.”
The tuk tuk was donated to the Rosie May Foundation by the BNA Foundation.
Keith Girling, a trustee of the BNA Foundation, a grant-making charity, said: “From our point of view, this was a great opportunity to further the great work being done in Bingham.
“We’re really thrilled about it and looking forward to seeing this pink tuk tuk out on the streets of Newark doing good works.”
Speaking at the launch event, Lisa Geary, the Mayor of Newark, said it would bring a sense of fun to the town.
“It is an exciting initiative for Newark,” she said.
“It is a project that will support the lonely and isolated, which is exactly what we need. There are still a lot of people who are scared to go out so this is a service that will go to them and bring smiles to faces.”
The Rosie May Foundation also trains single mums to drive pink tuk tuks as taxis in Sri Lanka to lift them out of poverty. Sri Lanka was chosen because Rosie May’s parents were there when the tsunami struck in Decemebr 2004, having wanted a break away from the UK a year on from their daughter’s death.
The pink tuk tuks they have in the UK are also available for private hire with all fees going directly to the overseas work.
For more information on this, or to become a tuk tuk driver for the charity’s Newark work, contact firstname.lastname@example.org email email@example.com or call 01949 358745.