Community transport is a sector that goes above and beyond to serve communities all over the UK. Day in and day out, our members are lifelines for their passengers, connecting them to the people and places they rely on.
But with the vast majority of their usual passengers having to stay home, and with doubts over funding and availability of staff, the sector, like so many others, is going through a difficult and uncertain time.
Yet in the face of this, we’ve seen community transport doing what it does best: stepping up in times of adversity and serving their communities. At CTA, we want to tell the stories of the organisations who, where they can, are reaching out and supporting those in need. Take a look at the story of one of our members below and read more here.
Green Community Travel are a CTA member based in South Gloucestershire. In normal times they’d be running home to school services for local children, taking people to the shops and local amenities; working to give those who would otherwise be isolated a lifeline to their community, family and friends. But these aren’t normal times, and with social distancing and self-isolation measures in place, Green CT are having to adapt their services to support the people that need them the most.
They’re now focusing on delivering shopping; taking people to medical appointments; collecting prescriptions for those who can’t get out themselves; and making sure they stay in touch with their regular passengers, giving them that human contact they’d normally get on their journeys.
“We have about 15 passengers on our regular shopping list now,” said Jenny Bright, Manager at Green Community Travel. “We’ve got a great relationship with the local supermarket, working with them to get their shopping lists packed and delivered to their doors. This also goes for prescriptions and medicines, and we’ve been working with our Local Authority to deliver emergency food parcels. In the coming weeks we’re going to be expanding our support to work with our local foodbank, sorting out a regular routine to get food to those who need it.”
“We’re still running some essential journeys in-line with Government guidance,” continued Jenny, “such as getting people to the doctors or other medical appointments, but we’re following strict cleaning and social distancing protocols to make sure that anyone travelling with us is safe and looked after.”
Usually, passengers would have to pay a small membership fee to access Green CT’s services, but with the situation as difficult as it is for people, all membership fees have been waived. “We’ve had a number of people get in touch who aren’t our usual members,” said Jenny, “but who are finding the isolation and loneliness very difficult. We’re here for what they need, be it shopping, prescriptions or just a friendly voice at the end of the phone. Recently, this even extended to sourcing an emergency plumber for someone, after they noticed damp from a leaking pipe under the floorboards!”
“We also have a mailing list of regular passengers so are making sure we keep in touch with them even if they don’t need our help at the moment. We’ve tried to find a few boredom busters, made sure they have links for things like live theatre shows and webcams for zoos. One of them even passed our email on their granddaughter as entertainment for their 2 year old and 5 month old great-grandchildren!”
Green CT are doing all of this in the face of significant threats to their funding – not from the nominal membership fees they’ve waived, but from other sources of income such as group hire and bookings from schools, community groups and other charities; money which always goes back into providing lifeline services for the community. But they’re persevering, and the real life, human impact, of Green Community Travel’s commitment to step up for their community is as clear as ever.
“I just wanted to get in touch to say a heartfelt thank you,” wrote the granddaughter of two of their regular passengers, “for everything that you are doing to support my mum and dad during these unprecedented times. I live 90 miles away and it’s such a reassurance to know that your team are keeping in touch with them and getting their shopping, allowing them to stay at home and stay safe. They are full of praise for the service that you offer in the best of times, but what you are doing in these difficult times is truly amazing. Thank you.”
If you have a story to tell about the work you’re doing to support your community at the moment, we’d love to hear from you. Just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact the CTA advice service if you need any further information. The CTA team are currently working remotely, so to ensure you speak to the right person first time, please email email@example.com receive a call back.
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.