• Recap: Coronavirus Advice Drop-in Session 17 April

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    • Recap: Coronavirus Advice Drop-in Session 17 April
    • by Dylan Gallanders
      Support and Engagement Executive, North Wales

    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  

    In our latest advice drop-in, it was great to hear from members about all the work they’ve  been doing to support their communities. From food and prescription deliveries to phone calls checking up on regular passengers, community transport is doing what it does best – stepping up to support their communities.

    We’ve summarised the discussion into some of the key themes that emerged during the call:

    Sharing Good News

    Given the extremely worrying and uncertain times that we’re in, it’s important that we take the time to celebrate the inspiring work being done by community transport providers of all sizes, all across the UK.  Community transport is regularly described as a lifeline, helping to support some of the most vulnerable people within our society, and this is true now more than ever. We’ve been seeing numerous examples of our members going above and beyond for their communities and we’re regularly sharing these stories to recognise your hard work. Take a look at the stories we’ve shared so far here.

    During this week’s call, we heard from Gary at FACT Community Transport and Bev from Dial A Ride Denbighshire, who shared articles about their work which have featured in their local news. We’d encourage you to get in touch with any local newspapers or websites to let them know what you are doing and the impact that you are having, and we’re going to be sharing some of the ways you can do this effectively in the coming weeks. Demonstrating the resilience of the sector and how community transport has been able to adapt will help to make a stronger case for support for the sector moving forward. We would also love it if you shared your stories with us by sending them to advice@ctauk.org.

    There was also some discussion about promoting your work through social media.  Here are some tips for making the most of Twitter:

    • A tweet has a limited number of characters so you can only share short and precise messages. If you can, adding a picture to a tweet can help it to get noticed.
    • You can use the ‘@’ symbol to mention another Twitter account. This will send that Twitter account a notification. If you mention the CTA account (@CTAUK1), then we will be able to see it and share it. You may also want to mention your local MP and local news accounts.
    • You can also use the ‘#’ symbol to highlight keywords or topics. For example, you may add ‘#communitytransport’ to the end of your tweet. Anyone could then click on that hashtag to see other tweets related to community transport.

    Funding

    As they’re not able to run their usual services, funding and cash flow remain a concern for community transport providers. Members on the call shared with us that to try and mitigate some of these financial difficulties, they’ve been successful in asking for rent holidays for premises and discounts on insurance premiums. Many landlords, businesses and organisations are being as flexible and as understanding as they can through this difficult time. For any outgoings and fixed costs that you have, we would encourage you to ask if there’s something that could be done to help support you.

    We also discussed the types of grant funding that is available to help support charities during this time. The Government have set out a support package for charities and we’ve also published a list of a number of funding programmes which are available UK wide and in each nation. One of the challenges highlighted at the advice drop-in was not having the time and capacity to apply to some of these funds. Although many funds are looking to distribute grants quickly, it still requires a lot of effort to complete applications with no guaranteed funding at the end of it. It may be worth thinking about who might be able to support you going through this process to help relieve some of the pressure. Think about whether you have any trustees or volunteers who are unable to currently drive, who may be able to write or edit a funding application. There may also be information in previous applications that you have done which could be adapted to new forms. Before starting, you could also get in touch with the fund that you’re applying to so that you can make sure that you are eligible and that you understand exactly what information they are looking for.

    Some members have also told us that they’re having to look into the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is now open for claims, and which is important for those who have had to place employees on furlough leave. In the last catch-up we shared a useful resource for understanding the scheme and how it could support you, which you can find here.

    The future of our sector

    The advice drop-in concluded with a brief discussion about what community transport might look like in the future. It was noted that operators may wish to keep running some of the new services they’re now providing, such as shopping and prescription deliveries. As a result of the crisis, many of our members have also started to work with new partners, improving relationships with other organisations and supporting new individuals. This has led to more people who need support signing up as members, who will now be able to continue accessing community transport services once some normality resumes in the future.

    We also discussed the value of volunteers and the vital role they play in the sector. We know that many regular volunteers are having to stay isolated at the moment and that many new volunteers have come forward to help support services. After this crisis, the challenge will be to keep these new volunteers engaged and to ensure that the volunteers who have had to take a break, feel safe and supported enough to return. As always, we want to say to massive thank you to everyone who volunteers their time to support community transport.


    Our next call

    The next drop-in will be on Friday 24 April, from 11am – 12pm. If you would like to join, please email advice@ctauk.org with the subject line ‘Covid-19 weekly drop-in’.  The focus of the next session is ‘the new normal’, looking ahead to future challenges and opportunities facing the sector. We’ll be talking about the changing landscape, passenger confidence, retaining and supporting new volunteers, changing passenger demand and continuing some of the additional services that CTs have started to deliver over the last month.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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