ACROSS enables individuals and groups to travel to Lourdes and provides transport and full board accommodation at a specially selected hotel, The Hotel Mediterranee, in the town of Lourdes a short walk from the Grotto.
Sick and disabled persons are referred to as VIPs and priority is given to those in terminal illness, those confined to a bed or wheelchair, and those with progressive diseases or with a medical condition which makes other forms of transport impracticable. VIPs with less debilitating conditions are also welcome to join groups.
Care is provided by volunteer helpers, nurses, priests and doctors without whom ACROSS could not exist. These volunteer carers give up their time and holidays to accompany VIPs to Lourdes and to care for them 24 hours per day. Everyone including the group leader, who has special responsibilities for the whole group, are volunteers and indeed pay their own expenses or organise fundraising to cover the expenses.
Whilst a good medical team is most vital, and no group could travel without one, so too are the helpers who come from all walks of life, many of whom had no caring experience before their first ACROSS trip. All that is required is to be fit and able and have a Christian love for others and a willing heart.
An ACROSS group departs each Thursday from the UK and returns on the Saturday 10 days later.
There are two kinds of ACROSS groups, National groups to which individuals apply. For such groups the Jumbulance starts in the north of the country, usually Glasgow and travels southwards on the motorways uplifting pilgrims at motorway service stations en route. Individuals are invoiced separately.
Local groups are organised in a town or parish and one organiser receives the invoice for the whole group. The Jumbulance departs from a single location of the organiser's choosing.
Individuals are responsible for their own transport to and from the meeting point.
The cost for 2015 is £707.85 per person which includes travel, meals and refreshments en route, Channel crossing (via the Eurotunnel), full board accommodation in Lourdes, but not travel insurance**, which is available to purchase, the support of experienced staff in Lourdes, transport in and around Lourdes, and the use when necessary of wheelchairs, lifting equipment, emergency oxygen and some medical equipment. Persons on constant oxygen must purchase their own. A discount is available for nurses on national and local groups, the fare for nurses in 2015 is £332.85.
A small group charge applies to transport by Mini beyond the periphery of Lourdes and Bartres.
Whilst the Trustees of ACROSS have set the level of remuneration for the trip from pilgrims at £750 the actual cost of the pilgrimage per person is over £800 and the shortfall is met by fundraising and donations from generous benefactors.
An ACROSS pilgrimage is a group pilgrimage where everyone is expected to act in the best interests of the group as a whole. Carers must remember that their prime consideration must be to the VIPs whose needs and wishes must take precedence over the carers. VIPs must remember that carers are all volunteers without whom there would no ACROSS and without whom the VIP would not be in Lourdes. Everyone should treat each other with dignity and respect.
**ACROSS is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts.
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