• Celebrating Community Transport at CT ’19

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    November 12 and 13 saw community transport providers from across the UK gather together at CT ’19, our brand new event for the community transport sector! Longstanding CTA members might remember the three day annual event we used to hold in Manchester almost a decade ago. With CT ’19, our aim was to bring back the spirit of this sort of event, taking what was best from it, building on it with new ideas, and making it more accessible for the wide range of organisations that make up our membership.  Across two days, we saw CTA members from all over the country coming together, sharing their experiences, talking about big picture ideas, practical day to day issues and celebrating the amazing work of community transport.

    In case you missed it, here’s what went on:

    Day One – CT ’19 Conference

    Despite a rainy and autumnal morning, over 200 delegates descended on Hotel Football in Manchester for the start of CT ’19. CTA’s Chief Executive Bill Freeman kicked off the conference talking about how happy he was to see so many of our members and supporters together in one room.

    “Since the day I started at CTA back in 2013,” said Bill,  “members have always told me how much they miss our old events, and my promise has always been that we would find a way to get the whole country back together. Our job at the CTA, and the reasons for events like this, is to help you explore future possibilities, get support with issues you’re facing now, share your thoughts, learn new things and celebrate the amazing work of you and your colleagues across the sector. That’s just what we’ll be doing over the next two days. Enjoy your conference!”

    Improving Local Commissioning

    The first panel of the day was on ‘Improving Local Commissioning’ based around the launch of CTA’s new preliminary report ‘Commissioning for the Community’, which explores how commissioning practices can be changed to better recognise the social value created by community transport.

    Our panel,  Tom Lloyd Goodwin, Associate Director at the Centre for Local Economic Strategy, Nigel Rose, the Strategic Lead on Commissioning at MACC, Sarah Leyland Morgan, Senior Officer Community Transport at Powys County Council, and Orla Campbell, Head of Accessible and Community transport at the Department for Infrastructure, all shared their experiences of the commissioning process, highlighting it’s difficulties and it’s opportunities.

    Tom Lloyd Goodwin made an argument for an inclusive economy approach, which has social justice value built into the design of services, rather than using social value assessments as an add-on to commissioning projects. Nigel Rose asked how we in the community transport sector could use social value as a lens through which to see all of our work and, in particular, to look for opportunities to communicate the social, economic and environmental benefits of the sector. He encouraged CTs to build relationships with their commissioners and to co-write the specifications of commissioning guidelines. Sarah Leyland Morgan shared a commissioner’s perspective from her experiences of balancing the tension between statutory responsibilities and supporting community transport on reduced budgets, and  Orla Campbell shared the contrasting commissioning environment for community transport and its associated challenges in Northern Ireland.

    The consensus amongst the panel was that there are significant difficulties in the current commissioning environment when it comes to appreciating the social value of organisations in the third sector. Social value, our panel agreed, is often seen by commissioners as a tick box exercise, rather than a key determiner in whether to bring on board the services of a particular organisation. There has to be a step change in how we think about commissioning, the panel said, putting social value at the heart of commissioning decisions.

    You can find Sarah and Orla’s slides below:

    Member Lightning Talks

    CT ’19 was full of community transport providers doing incredible and innovative work and four of them shared their stories as part of our lightning talk session. Each giving a short five minute talk, we heard inspiring examples of how communities can come together to meet specific local needs and reach out to groups of people who are often excluded from the mainstream transport network.

    Emma Bingham, Transport Coordinator at the Pembrokeshire Integrated Voluntary Organisations Team, shared how this partnership of not-for-profit organisations are coordinating their resources to make sure that people can return from hospital safely and comfortably, reducing pressure on hospitals by allowing people to be settled and supported back into their own homes, and identifying the needs of passengers so they can provide them with the support they need.

    Laura Burns, Operations Manager at Llanwrtyd Wells Community Transport talked about the work they do to make sure that their community transport services are sustainable and available to the local community, without solely relying on grants. Through setting up a social enterprise doing waste management and recycling, including buying a glass imploder and making and selling recycled jewellery, they are able to ensure that the services their community relies on are always there for them.

    Emily Dougherty and Anne-Marie Payne, Project Managers at the African Community Centre and the Hackney Brocals respectively shared how their organisations have reached out to people in their community who are often left out of the transport mix, with the African Community Centre operating a community car scheme for Swansea’s Asylum Seekers, and the Brocals supporting older men in their community who are significantly less likely to access support to tackle loneliness and isolation.

    The What, Why and How of Place Based Policy and Practice 

    Places matter to people, so does transport. Both shape the way we live, feel about ourselves and the connections we make with others. This was the topic for our second panel on place based policy making: the idea that policy making often treats places as if they were all the same, even though we know what works for Glasgow will differ from what works for Gloucestershire or Gwynedd. Our discussion was between Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council’s Labour Group and Emily Wallace, National Programme Manager at the Corra Foundation.  The common theme from the discussions was that the best way to support a community is by supporting third sector organisations in that community. Councillor Brown shared his experiences with the ‘Preston Model’ of community wealth building, and the idea that we need to re-direct procurement from external suppliers to local producers, keeping the money in the community. Supporting organisations like community transport, he argued, keeps that money in the hands of people who know their communities’ needs and how to meet them.

    This was echoed by Emily, who told us how the Corra Foundation wants to invest in places that need specific local support, and that the provision of accessible and inclusive community transport needs to be a key part of this. The discussions showed that there are conversations going on in communities across the country where politicians and grant making bodies are looking for local knowledge, opportunities and these are conversations where community transport can place themselves right in the centre

    You can find Emily’s slides below:

    People Powered Transport 

    The idea that communities can work together to shape and create their own transport solutions, with access and inclusion built in from the start, is central to our purpose and our work as a movement.  Through CTA’s new People Powered Transport Initiative, launched at CT ’19 by Christine Boston, CTA’s Director for Wales and UK Lead on Research and Policy Campaigns, we want to make sure that the values community transport embodies are at the heart of the transport sector.

    Community transport is accessible and inclusive, localised and personalised, connected and collaborative and sustainable and resilient. It’s these values that we want to put front and centre so keep an eye out for more information on our campaign for a connected community in the New Year.

    Community Transport and Social Prescribing 

    Social prescribing is another hot topic at the moment, and something that seems to be a tailor made opportunity for the community transport sector. A whole person approach to public services, giving people the support they need by recognising that their health and wellbeing is determined by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, goes to the heart of what community transport is all about.

    In this panel, we heard from Dr Richard Kimberlee, NHS England Regional Facilitator for the South West Social Prescribing Network and Christiana Melam, Chief Executive of the National Association of Link Workers on their experiences of working with community transport providers as a key link in the social prescribing chain.

    Richard, an expert in social prescribing and who helped coin the term, talked about how social prescribing has taken off as a concept in recent years, gathering significant support from across the health sector. The idea that people should be prescribed social activity as well as or instead of medicine is gaining traction, he said, but whilst the demand is there, there aren’t always the services to meet it. That’s where sectors like community transport come in with the opportunities to be key players in social prescribing because the services that are needed are the sorts of things that community transport does every day. This was echoed by Christiana who spoke from a practitioner’s point of view about social prescribing and what a link worker’s challenges would be. She called for experts like community transport to be given more support and brought into the conversations around social prescribing.

    You can find Richard and Christiana’s slides below:

    CTA’s Annual General Meeting

    Our Annual General Meeting 2019 was held at CT ’19 with all members invited to attend. The Trustee’s report and accounts for 2018/19 were presented by Bill Freeman, Chief Executive, and Phil Benton, Finance Director. Dains LLP were reappointed as CTA auditors for 2019/20.

    Susan Evans, CTA’s Chair, outlined five special resolutions which were all approved. This means small but important revisions were agreed to CTA’s charitable objects, alongside changes to the profile of co-opted and elected trustees, made to ensure CTA’s board has a full complement of 11 trustees with appropriate skills and experience. A further change commits that at least two member trustees are from different parts of the UK.

    Members’ questions at the AGM explored CTA still being able to work on tackling loneliness, discussed the relationship with Mobility Matters for the Judicial Review and shared challenges in recruiting or co-opting trustees reinforcing the importance of CTA’s Board reflecting the diversity of the communities our sector serves. CTA members can read the draft minutes of the AGM at ctauk.org/agm-2019/.

    Day One – The Community Transport Awards

    The evening of Day One held the Community Transport Awards. After a drinks reception hosted by Endsleigh, CTA’s new partners for CTA Insurance, everyone took their places in Hotel Football’s Stadium Suite.

    The awards were a chance to come together and spend an evening celebrating the contributions of individuals and organisations who go above and beyond for their communities.

    Throughout the evening, we heard the stories of people who make the community transport sector what it is, a brilliant reminder of the compassion, dedication and commitment that lies at the heart of every single one of our members.

    In opening the awards, Bill Freeman, CTA’s Chief Executive and Rachael Murphy, Director for Scotland, spoke about how the winners and shortlisted organisations had inspired them:

    “I am proud and privileged to spend all day, every day,” said Bill, “talking about the difference you all make for the communities you serve. Once in a while its good to stand back and take stock, to demonstrate the difference you make and to celebrate it as well.

    There are so many big questions facing our country and our communities – about how we are to live fulfilling lives, be happy, be healthy, feel connected, feel that we belong. For so many of those big questions, community transport can be part of the answer. Not just in the services we provide, but in the spirit and style in which we work. Running our organisations and services in partnership with the people who benefit from them. Involving our users in the democracy of our organisations. Self-help, self-responsibility, solidarity and equality – living and breathing these values-day in, day out.

    As we heard in our conference, people are saying that how transport should be tomorrow is just like community transport is today. So in celebrating our sector tonight we are also showing we are confident about the part we can play tomorrow, next week, next year and beyond.”

    A huge congratulations to all our award winners and runners up! You can find out who won on the CT Awards page by clicking here, or by downloading our winners booklet, here

    Day Two – Workshops and Exhibition

    Where day one of CT ’19 looked at big picture ideas and the value that community transport brings to communities, day two looked at some of the more practical day to day issues that affect our members. Over a series of workshops, members heard from a range of speakers representing organisations and expertise from across the third sector.

    Amongst the workshops, participants also toured our exhibition, talking to some of the top suppliers to the community transport sector. From vehicle converters and manufacturers of safety equipment, to journey software, tools to measure your social value, and free HR consultancy sessions, it was a great opportunity to engage with the people and organisations who provide the vehicles, equipment and services that our members rely on.

    Talking to Politicians 

    Gill Morris, Chief Executive, Devo Connect

    With so many voices competing for the ear of local and national politicians it can be hard to get heard. You need a compelling story that connects with them personally and with what they want to achieve. In this session Gill Morris, Chief Executive of DevoConnect, explored with members how to engage effectively with local politicians, make their voices heard and bring about change. She started by mapping out which decisions are made by who across local and national governments, talked about effective political monitoring and mapping out key stakeholders who may be easier to access, with less influence but important insight. This was followed by tips on starting and maintaining a dialogue with politicians and the importance of creating a compelling story that connects with them personally and with what they want to achieve.

    You can find Gill’s slides below:

    Using the Short Distance Exemption

    Tim Cairns, Director of Policy and Nations, CTA  & John Taylor, Director, TAS Partnership

    In September, the Department for Transport published further guidance on the operation of the ‘short distance’ exemption to EU regulation 1071/2009 on operator licencing, and this session at CT ’19 looked at what this means in practice for community transport providers, exploring how to assess which services fall under the exemption, methods for plotting distances and what evidence you’ll need when applying for permits. You can find more information about the exemption here and find the slides below:

    The Latest Practice in Accessibility 

    Michael Smith, UK Sales Director, Q’Straint

    This hands on session, run by CT ’19 headline sponsor Q’Straint, looked at the best practice in accessibility and safety and the products community transport providers can use to ensure that their vehicles meet the highest standards of accessibility. As part of the session, there was a live demonstration of the products and members found the opportunity to ask questions about products they had already purchased useful. You can find their slides below:

    Managing Risk

    James Blackburn, Senior Account Executive, Endsleigh Insurance Brokers
    This workshop was run by Endsleigh Insurance Brokers, CTA’s new partner for CTA Insurance. Risk management is an important part of running an organisation, but six out of ten people at small charities have never received risk management training. In this session, Endsleigh explored what good risk management means, the things that you have to look out for when operating transport, and how they could affect your insurance. You can find out more about CTA Insurance and CTA’s partnership with Endsleigh here, and access their slides below:

    Good to Go – CTA’s Performance Standards

    Anneessa Mahmood, Director of Member Services, CTA

    At CTA, we’re serious about our responsibility in supporting members to promote high standards of practice in community transport and to deliver excellent services and, in this session, we launched the new Community Transport Performance Standards. The performance standards have been developed to help you provide transport services in a safe, legal and caring way and will be available to any community transport operator.

    Anneessa Mahmood, Director of Member Services at CTA shared how CTA’s approach to the performance standards is moving its focus from external verification via the Quality Mark to focusing on developing good practice in community transport by supporting members to assess themselves against the standards and to demonstrate how they meet them.

    You can find out more about, and download the standards, at ctauk.org/performance-standards/ and find the presentation slides below. To ensure the supporting guidance for the standards works for community transport providers of different sizes and in different countries and communities across the UK, we’re running a round-table in the New Year. If this is something you want to get involved in you can email  performancestandards@ctauk.org to find out more.

    What Makes Funders Tick? 

    Duncan Nicholson, the National Lottery Community Fund and Jessica Davies, Social Finance 

    This session looked at the current funding landscape and what makes a difference when it comes to talking to funders. Duncan and Jessica shared their experiences with what makes a positive funding bid, focusing on the importance of building relationships with funders and letting the project dictate the funding, rather than the other way around. Another theme that emerged was that funders want the stories of what our members do – they aren’t necessarily excited by the minibus or the ramp, they’re interested in the difference made to the lives of service users, and how the community at large benefits from the project. There was also the advice that funders don’t operate in an exclusively community transport, or transport, environments so it’s important to make sure that funding bids are clear and jargon free.

    You can find Jessica’s slides below:

    Volunteer Management and Engagement

    Jo Maycock, Investing in Volunteers Project Manager, NCVO

    In surveys of our members about what they need, help with recruiting and engaging volunteers is always high on the list. In this session, Jo Macycock from NCVO looked at some of their top tips to manage and engage with volunteers, giving them the sort of experience that will make them feel supported and want to stick around. During the session Jo shared what a quality volunteering experience looked like from the point of view of NCVO’s Investors in Volunteering Quality Mark and facilitated discussion where participants could discuss what they were doing well and share where they needed support. You can find Jo’s slides below:

    Getting the most from your board

    Phil Benton, Partner, Councerculture Partnership 

    Governance is a vitally important part of any organisation, and this session from Phil Benton, Partner at Counterculture LLP, explored with participants the difference between effective and ineffective boards and the 5S Governance Model which allows boards to understand, what sort of board they are, which mode they operate in at any given time and whether this is right for the situation. He gave some model questions that boards could ask in support, stretch, scrutiny, stewardship and strategy modes and concluded with further resources to improve meeting behaviours, accessible guidance for improving individual trustee performance and the Charity Governance Code to assess the extent of good governance in a charity.

    You can find Phil’s slides below:

    The reason we do what we do

    For all of us at the Community Transport Association, CT ’19 epitomised why we do what we do as a membership organisation.  Our members are the lifeblood of so many communities all across the UK and it’s a privilege to be able work every day to amplify their voices, provide them with support and look for new and exciting opportunities.

    A huge thank you to everyone who came to the event, all of our speakers and workshop hosts, our awards judges, Q’Straint, our headline sponsors, and sponsors Atkinson HR Consulting, Braunability, CATSS, Courtside Conversions, Endsleigh, EVM, GM Coachwork and UK Global Road Safety.

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