I’m delighted to have joined CTA as its new Director for Scotland. It’s a privilege to now be part of the community transport sector – a movement which has accessibility, connectivity, inclusivity and sustainability at its heart and does such important work across Scotland.
I’ve always worked where I felt I could make a difference and only where I truly believed in the mission – from collaborating with global civil society on human rights at the United Nations, to serving the community where I was born and raised in local government. And, for me, CTA is no different.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, community transport providers have shown, once again, that the sector is adaptable, essential and resilient. You’ve stepped up to the plate when you were needed most. You should be saluted for your efforts to continue providing the lifeline services and support upon which some of our most vulnerable, marginalised communities and those hardest hit by the pandemic rely.
The unequal impact of COVID-19 has underlined how entrenched and unjust the deep inequalities in our society and our economy really are. You – the hard-working activists, staff and volunteers who keep the wheels of community transport turning – do an admirable job in mitigating these inequalities.
Every day, come rain or shine, you help older people, people with disabilities, residents of rural communities and others to overcome barriers to accessing education, employment, family and friends, healthcare and more.
But I know you need and deserve more support – from the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and local authorities, as well as from CTA – to make an even bigger impact as we try to ‘build back better’. We need to make the case that community transport will play a critical role in building a fair and green recovery for all.
We need to tell the powerful story of community transport, proudly showcasing and evidencing our social and economic impact in a more effective way. We need to reach a broader audience of decision-makers, policymakers and stakeholders across Scotland. One of my key priorities as Director for Scotland will be to deepen and broaden our public affairs engagement to better represent your views and needs at the highest levels. CTA must be a credible, strong and distinctively Scottish voice for our sector and continue to be a helpful partner to devolved and local government.
As well as being a leading voice in conversations in our own sector, I’m very keen that we’re also plugged in to wider policy debates and strategic conversations about the grand challenges of our time – especially delivering Scotland’s just transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2045.
My vision is of a secure, growing and thriving community transport sector which is a valued, properly supported and integral part of an integrated, inclusive and sustainable national transport system across Scotland, serving the needs of everyone in every community. That has to be a shared mission for CTA in Scotland with our members, partners and funders.
Decarbonising our sector will be a major challenge in the years ahead in the context of perennial issues around funding, as well as emerging concerns around driver shortages, rising costs and supply chains. I hope to bring to CTA some of my expertise in this area from my previous role at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, where I lead and authored influential research on climate change, skills and technology.
I also hope to build on the great work of Alice Duthuille – our fabulous Development Officer in Scotland– and my predecessor Rachael Murphy, to develop more Scottish policy content and events – like the ‘Scotland Spotlight’ updates and Scottish Members Meet-Ups – as well as support more Scottish collaborations, connections and partnerships.
I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts about how we can better serve you as CTA members. We’re already recruiting for a second Development Officer for Scotland to help us do just that.
I can’t wait to meet as many of you as possible in the weeks ahead to learn more about all the amazing work you do – and look forward to exploring all the amazing things we can achieve together!
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.