On Wednesday 19 October the Community Transport Association welcomed members and supporters to the All Nations Centre in Cardiff for the CTA Cardiff Conference. The event was an excellent day of discussion and collaboration with both our speakers and our participants sharing their thoughts on how we can prove the value of community transport.
The theme of the conference was ‘Social Value, Future Impact’ and looked at how we can measure and prove the immense value of community transport both in Wales and across the United Kingdom as a whole.
The day opened with Susan Evans, Chair of the CTA’s Board of Trustees, sharing her thoughts on why it is so important that we as a sector prove the value of community transport. “Today’s event is about measuring the value of community transport in Wales”, said Susan. “It is my belief that the work that community operators do is invaluable, but it is measurable.” Susan’s words were echoed by out speakers throughout the day: we can measure and prove the value of community transport.
Susan was followed by a video message from Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, who told the conference how much he valued community transport and how he was determined to continue to forge strong partnerships with community transport operators in Wales. He called for community transport to participate in a more integrated transport system and wanted to see how community transport fits in with the Wales Government wider transport ambitions.
Following Ken’s well-received video message, Susan Evans introduced the day’s first speakers: Nick Jones, Traffic Commissioner for Wales, and Marie Brousseau-Navarro, Director of Policy Legislation, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner.
Nick Jones spoke about his firm view as a Traffic Commissioner that that there is a lot that can and should be done so that people can chose public transport. He argued that in the many areas where people don’t have access to this sort of transport, however, Community Transport plays a vital role. He also discussed the downsides of having so many designated bodies for issuing Section 19 permits in Wales and whether it would make sense to have just one. He suggested that due to their expertise and professionalism, this could be the Community Transport Association. Nick closed by discussing how the Wales Bill, which is currently going through the UK Parliament, could offer the opportunity for Wales to be an innovator in transport and especially, he argued, in community transport.
Following Nick was Marie Brousseu-Navarro who talked about the ground breaking Future Generations (Wales) Act that enshrines in law a commitment to leave a thriving Wales for future generations. It was said at the United Nations that “what Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow” and the conference was pleased to hear Marie’s thoughts on how community transport could fit into this undertaking. The community transport sector already supports many of the Future Generations Goals she argued, as well as the five ways of working that the Act promotes. You can find out more about the Future Generation Goals in this video that she shared as part of her presentation.
After a short break, the Conference split into four routable discussions which looked at a variety of themes: Transport to Health – Where are we now and where next?; The implications of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 for Community Transport; Community Transport’s contribution to the Future Generations Goals; and Working with Service users and communities- using co-production within the CT sector. These discussions provided some excellent insight both from their facilitators and our participants, with everyone getting involved and sharing their views.
The afternoon saw a session focusing on ‘Social Value, Future Impact’ the theme of the conference. This was opened by CTA Chief Executive Bill Freeman who discussed how community transport can appeal both to the heart and the head; it provides enormous social value but investment in community transport services can also lead to significant economic benefits and savings for the public purse.
The afternoon’s first speaker Anna Whitty MBE, CEO of ECT Charity discussed why it’s important to demonstrate the value and impact of community transport. Anna discussed a recent report by ECT Charity which looks at how we can demonstrate the economic and social benefit of community transport. The report starts by looking at the economic impact that CT can have through combating loneliness and social isolation. Through alleviating the symptoms that cause loneliness and social isolation in older people, and therefore the resulting costs to the health service, the report demonstrates that investing in community transport could save over £1 billion per year. The report also looks at how community transport operators can use newly devised social metrics to prove its value to potential funders and commissioners. You can read more details of these in the report itself.
Following Anna was Tim Lamerton from Devon Access to Services Project who discussed the economic impacts of community car schemes in Devon. He discussed the benefits of a forum through which 43 car schemes provide statistics which are used to measure the overall economic value of car schemes in Devon and to show funders how investing in these schemes can make significant savings. Their findings showed that car schemes in Devon could save Primary Care Trusts around £2.5 million. These savings come from aspects such as more people using car schemes to access hospital appointments which means that the likelihood of being admitted to hospital in the future due to missed appointments is limited. As such, Tim said, to spend a little is to save a lot.
Rounding off this session was Carl Gough, Senior Development Officer at the CTA who introduced a new initiative called the Community Transport Census. This proposes to look more deeply at what we can measure to demonstrate the value of Community Transport and how we can measure it. He discussed how CT operators in Wales could participate in the census to help build a clear picture of the impact and value of community transport in Wales by capturing what they achieve on a single day. In launching this idea, Carl asked for the feedback from CTA members, including what questions the census should ask, along with their commitment to get involved with this exciting initiative. You can find out more in the slides below.
The day rounded off with a learning and networking exchange. Each session was facilitated by a CTA staff member or committee member who asked questions to prompt discussion in the group. The sessions looked at how CT can increase volunteer recruitment; what makes for a good funding application; how CT can better market itself; and what the CTA census for Wales should measure.
In his closing remarks Bill Freeman thanked all our speakers, our roundtable discussion leaders and our members and supporters who attended the event. He also thanked our sponsors, Traveline Cymru and The Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, for their support
Reflecting on the content of all the discussions Bill highlighted how collaboration and integration had been consistent themes throughout the day and said we needed to stand up and stand out as one community transport movement across the UK working together to advance accessible and inclusive transport.
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.