• Recap: Coronavirus Advice Drop-in Session 01 May

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    • Recap: Coronavirus Advice Drop-in Session 01 May
    • by Mariana Pacheco
      Support and Engagement Executive for England

    As the situation around coronavirus, develops we want to make sure that our members can access the guidance they need to understand any actions or precautions they might need to take.  We’re regularly publishing and updating important guidance for the community transport sector which you can find on our main guidance page at ctauk.org/covid19-guidance/

    As well as this, you can also contact the CTA advice service if you need any further information, or have any more questions. The CTA team are currently working remotely, so to ensure you speak to the right person first time, please email advice@ctauk.org to receive a call back for advice and support. Our advice service operates 10:00-4:00 Monday-Friday.  

    Our weekly advice service drop-ins 

    To help support our members throughout this difficult time, we’re also holding an ‘Advice Service Drop-in’ on a weekly basis. This is an opportunity for you to share how you are being affected by the situation, to ask any questions you may have and to talk to other members about how they’re coping. Whilst we may not have all the answers, we will continue to seek clarity and guidance from the relevant bodies on your behalf and these conversations will inform what we’re doing at CTA to support you 

    For those unable to make it, we will be sharing a summary of the points that are discussed during the sessions, including any best-practice or advice from other CTA members that they share during the call.  


    Last week’s call  

    To frame the drop-in session for this week, we sent the following to members:

    The focus of this session will be funding. We know that funding is a real concern for community transport providers at the moment, with many of their sources of income no longer being viable in the face of coronavirus, and many of their overheads still in place. There are however, a number of different funding sources that are offering emergency funding to charities and organisations going through these sorts of difficulties. We’ll be talking about how operators perceive these funding programmes, the opportunities and challenges that they present and the potential support that CTA can provide.

    What we talked about

    For our most recent advice drop-in,  we were joined by an enthusiastic group of  12 community transport providers. It was great seeing some faces that have now become regular in these sessions, and it’s always encouraging to see new participants showing up to the call.

    We started the conversation by going around the virtual room, with each member giving us an update on their organisation’s current circumstances and sharing any topics that they’d like to see discussed between fellow CTs.

    Following on from the previous week’s Advice Drop-in, PPE was once again a hot topic. We heard about mixed experiences, with some members praising the free access to PPE that has been provided to them by their councils, whilst others haven’t been getting the same support. One member told us that he’s successfully installed screens on all of his vehicles, and several others were considering following the same route. Some members did raise, however, that this won’t be possible on all types of vehicles and there are significant costs involved that need to be taken into account.

    Currently, PPE and life after lock-down seem to be two topics that go hand in hand, with most of the participants raising their concerns about the viability of maintaining social distancing while driving a minibus. The fact that no guidance has been issued regarding how to operate safely after lockdown has become a worry, with operators asking questions such as how many passengers they should carry in a vehicle and what they should do if there’s higher demand than capacity, especially with schools and day centres start reopening. Many of our members that we spoke to were concerned about how long it will take for their operation and income to go back to normal levels, as they will not be able to carry as many passengers as before due to social distancing and worries there will also be less demand than usual as people will be less willing to travel. Members that run group hire services said that they’re missing the peak season while others are starting to discuss potential restructures within their organisation.

    On a more positive note, we heard of a participant who was feeling very inspired about volunteers, as he was witnessing first-hand how more and more people are dedicating their time to the charity sector. According to him, “a lot of them have realised what actually matters in life now” and some volunteers have even expressed the wish to, when going back to work, request a 4-day work week so that they can dedicate the 5th day to a charitable cause.

    Funding

    Moving on into the topic that was set out for this session, we asked CTs about their experiences of applying for funding programmes and what the main challenges faced by operators are when bidding for grants. Interestingly, mixed experiences were had by the majority of participants. One member shared that their Council has been proactive in offering support to local organisations with their funding application, while another has been offered a funding extension from the National Lottery as they’re a current grant holder.

    Despite the positives, members on the call did raise that applications can take a lot of time and effort, It was also pointed out that, currently, a lot of support is directed either at big nation-wide charities or at small volunteer-run charities, while the ones in the middle-tier seem to not make the cut for most of the financial support available out there. You can find some links to potential funding sources that we’ve put together as part of our guidance for the community transport sector here.


    Our next call

    As the weeks go by, it’s really heartening to see that more and more members are joining our advice drop-in calls. I left this call feeling that it was such a productive hour and how this initiative is a testament to the importance of connecting the sector. Thank you to everyone who’s joined our sessions so far and has feed into the conversation, either by asking a question, raising a concern or sharing a story. Please do get in touch if you’d like to become part of this conversation and help us shape the support that CTA provides to the sector.

    The next drop-in will be on Friday 15 May, from 11am – 12pm. If you would like to join, please email advice@ctauk.org with the subject line ‘Covid-19 weekly drop-in’. You can also email our advice team if you would like any support or if you would like to share with us how COVID-19 is impacting your organisation. 


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