Visiting Easy Go CT with Catherine Perez, Department for Transport
by Stephanie Riches
Support and Engagement Executive
Last month, CTA were joined by Catherine Perez, Policy Lead in the Buses and Taxis team at the Department for Transport. Having previously worked in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Catherine joined the Department at the start of the year and wanted to visit a community transport provider to build her knowledge and experience of the sector.
After meeting with some of the staff at CTA’s Manchester office, we took Catherine over to Stockport to meet up with CTA member Easy Go Community Transport and their General Manager Carl Schoolden. Carl talked with Catherine about his experience of running a community transport scheme and, as part of the visit, we headed out on Easy Go’s Department for Transport funded minibus to pick up some of their regular passengers.
As anyone who runs a community transport service would expect, it didn’t take long for the journey to demonstrate just how important community transport is to the people that Easy Go support. During the drive we met two passengers, one who was new to the service and one who had been using community transport for over 10 years. The first of these passengers, Bill, had just started using the service to go to a day centre every week and told us how it’s the only time in the week that he gets out of his house and has a chance to talk to other people. Without the service, he said, he would be trapped inside his home. Bill’s journey also demonstrated how community transport drivers go above and beyond for their passengers, with the driver Barry helping him off the bus and into his house, making sure he’d settled before heading back out.
David, the other passenger we met, was a long standing user of the service and had known Barry for the last 10 years. It was heart-warming to see what good friends they were and provided a touching example of how community transport is about far more than just getting from A to B – it’s about the relationships and the social interaction on the way.
Catherine said of her visit: “Thank you very much to Easy Go for explaining how they operate and giving me a ride in one of their minibuses. I saw first-hand how to safely bring in and secure a passenger in a wheelchair and how to support passengers with different mobility issues. Getting on and off a minibus might be something a lot of us take for granted but for many of the people who use community transport, they need the expertise and support that I witnessed from our driver. It wasn’t just the technical procedures that impressed me though, but also the care and strong relationships which had developed between the driver and their passengers which not only increased the wellbeing of the people using the service but also ensured job satisfaction for the driver. I look forward to my next visit and minibus trip!”
You can find out more about Easy Go Community Transport at easygoct.org/.
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.