In our second Catch the Bus Week blog, Sue Dudley, Marketing Manager at Community Connexions writes about the importance of their community bus routes, and shares the story of what they mean to passenger Duds, 88.
Community Connexions is a community transport charity providing accessible and affordable transport to people around Gloucestershire who would otherwise be unable to access it due to a variety of reasons including ill health and rural or social isolation.
As well as operating a door-to-door community car scheme, we also operate almost 20 community bus routes across Gloucestershire. We connect communities across the county, linking city and town residents in Gloucester, Cheltnam and Cirencester as well as serving more rural areas in the Cotswalds.
Our drivers go above and beyond for their passengers, helping them carry their shopping, making sure they get safely back in their homes, and maybe most importantly, they ask about their day. For many of our passengers, our drivers are the only people they get to talk to all day.
Our community bus services are a lifeline for people across Gloucestershire just like Duds. Duds lives alone out in the countryside. “It’s right in the country where I live darling,” she told me. Her nearest amenity is the local church, and that’s still a whole mile away. “I can’t walk to the church, my legs don’t have the fire they used to,” she says. Duds, 88, is almost entirely blind. She and her guide dog Ben regularly use Community Connexions to get out and about. “Community Connexions has given me a new lease of life! If I didn’t have them, I’d have to say home. There’s no other transport down here.”
Duds and Ben use Community Connexions to go to Tesco every Thursday for the food they need for the week. They also use it whenever Ben has to visit the vets and when Duds needs to go to the hospital. Duds also uses the transport to visit her friends at the charity shop and to volunteer at a care home in a nearby town. “The drivers are very kind to me. They look after me and they look after my dog. They always help me with his harness.” Dud’s sister lives in Canada. “I phone them up on a Sunday and tell them all about Community Connexions so that they might be able to set up something like it where they live!” It’s clear that being able to access reliable and accessible transport means so much to Duds. “If I didn’t have you, I’d be house bound” she told us.
Our charity relies on a committed team which includes volunteer drivers who give up their free time to help their community. Without volunteers we would be unable to provide the breadth of services or help as many people as we do. We’re always looking for additional volunteer support in the Gloucestershire area – for more information please visit our website: communityconnexions.org.uk/volunteer/
Community Transport Association UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in Cardiff no. 1985361 Registered office: 12 Hilton Street M1 1JF. Registered as a charity in England and Wales no. 1002222. Charity Registered in Scotland No. SC038518.