• Supporting the community transport sector through coronavirus: our next steps

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    • Supporting the community transport sector through coronavirus: our next steps
    • by Bill Freeman
      Chief Executive

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    Like so many areas of society, coronavirus has caused significant upheaval in the way that community transport operates. At CTA, it’s our job as the national membership body for the sector to provide timely and relevant advice and support to our members, both with and without a major pandemic to contend with. That’s what we’ve aimed to do during this coronavirus pandemic and, as we start to gradually emerge from lock-down, it’s as important as ever that we continue to provide you with the support you need to run your services safely, securely and sustainably.

    Over the coming weeks, we’ll be helping our members meet the challenges of emerging from lock-down. We’ll be releasing detailed guidance, toolkits and resources, as well as being there for you in our member advice-drop in calls and with our advice service, to help you operate in what will be a new and uncertain environment.

    We’ll be sharing more in due course, but I wanted to explain some of the things that we’re going to be focusing on.

    It’s important that, as certain restrictions start to be lifted, community transport can recover and restart. Different organisations and different services will require different timescales and approaches, working at their own pace, and plans will differ based on guidance from the UK Government and devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Recognising this, we’ll make sure that the guidance you need is there to support you. We know that addressing concerns about running services in the future with social distancing and other safety measures in place is key, so we’ll be focusing on putting in place information that enhances confidence around safe travel based on guidance and advice.  We know that many members are relying on reserves to fill gaps in funding from loss of group hire and fares. We’re speaking with a range of funders about specific support for restarting CT services and will let you know how this progresses. Local authorities also play a vital role in championing and supporting the sector so we’ll be looking to work with them to ensure the support reaches the right places

    We also want to focus on supporting community transport to consolidate and strengthen some of the new service and partnership they’ve developed during lock-down. The sector has stepped up in these difficult times, delivering services such as home delivery of food and medicines and forging partnerships with local voluntary councils, food banks and community groups. Starting to emerge from lock-down doesn’t mean that these services have to disappear, and many members have told us that there are things they’re doing now that they would like support to continue. We’ll be sharing examples of best practice along with tools and resources to help.

    Our third priority is to re-imagine the way that people view community transport going forward. The current challenges have shone a light on the precarious nature of some of the funding streams relied on by community transport, so we need to consider how to support members who need it in developing resilient business models rather than having to rely on often short term, small-scale funding. We also need to be plugged into the conversation about what better transport networks will look like in the future. Although coronavirus has presented challenges to our members’ services and finances, it has also reaffirmed that enabling connectivity for all requires a strong sense of community and a commitment to collaboration – essential ingredients for building back better that our in our sector’s DNA.

    As we move forward, I want to make it clear that the Community Transport Association is going to be with you every step of the way. We’ll be working with you and for you to ensure that you have the information you need to come out of these difficult times with the strength and stability to re-connect your communities and play the vital, life-changing role you always have.

    When we have further guidance to share, you’ll always be able to find it at ctauk.org/covid19-guidance/ and if you need any help or support, you can contact our advice team on advice@ctauk.org and we’ll be in touch.

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