• Introducing our new CEO – Victoria Armstrong

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    • Introducing our new CEO – Victoria Armstrong

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    Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    My name is Victoria and I’ve worked in the voluntary sector for most of my career since graduating with a law degree in 2004. I have always worked in roles promoting inclusion and independence in various guises throughout my whole career. This ranged from providing legal advice to people with health conditions or living in poverty, supporting people with mental health problems to take on volunteering opportunities, to my most recent role at Disability North as their Chief Executive where I have been for the last 6 years leading a dedicated staff team to improve the lives of disabled people living in the North of England. None of us know where life will take us and any one of us can become reliant on services, community groups or charities, and so it has always been my passion to use the skills I have to ensure those services are fit for purpose, promote inclusion and independence, and ultimately improve the lives of individuals. There are two other things you might want to know about me – I have a 5 year old border collie called Glen who I spend far too much time with, and in whatever spare time I have, I can be found lifting very heavy things in my local gym.

    What attracted you to the role of CEO at CTA?

    When I applied for the role of Chief Executive of CTA I was motivated by the opportunity to work with an esteemed board and lead a skilled staff team in a national organisation which has the same values as me – to promote inclusive and accessible transport for all. I saw an opportunity to lead an organisation which is a true voice for the community transport sector, and with its members, strategically develop significant national influence and impact. Back in 2016 I completed a PhD in applied social sciences which explored (amongst other things) how community groups and charities have taken the place of services which were once provided by the public sector. Whilst I admit to being a bit of a bookworm and thoroughly enjoyed the social theory, lecturing, and writing papers for publication, I am a practical person at heart. I knew that bringing all of my skills together, along with my experience of leading a large regional disability organisation passionate about inclusion and accessibility, made me ideal for the CEO role at CTA.

    What are you looking forward to most in your new role?

    I like to take time to listen to what people and organisations need, and finding new ways to deliver and influence inclusive solutions, so the first thing I am looking forward to is getting to know the wonderful staff team and the existing members to find out what is important to them. I am also keen to grow the reach and influence of CTA so that we can promote membership and influence decisions and policy in a significant and positive way. In getting to know our members and growing the membership base, I believe that CTA will become a much needed contemporary voice in all things community transport related in an ever-changing world. It’s only by listening and co-producing services and policy that we will ensure a more accessible and inclusive community transport infrastructure for all. I have learned in my career that solutions which promote equality don’t always mean they are equitable and so it’s really important to listen to all of our members and invite new members to join up. So please, don’t be shy, I am looking forward to hearing from you all.

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    • Robert John Oakley

      17:04 17th May 2023

      As a Community Transport Volunteer of 6 years standing you will appreciate the rising costs in running a motor vehicle. Not just fuel prices but also servicing costs to ensure cars are safe. With our health service in crisis, including ambulances can we please exert pressure on government bodies to ensure that we can achieve a reasonable pence per mile review outside of current bands also linked to self employed people?
      In recent times I have been called out to retrieve patients stranded at hospitals due to lack of hospital transport facilities. Some are using taxi’s paid for by NHS which are up to three times the cost of a community transport volunteer.

      • CTA

         replying to Robert John Oakley
        12:12 18th May 2023

        Thank you for raising these important issues.

        We understand that many Community Transport volunteers are struggling to continue to afford to do so due to the cost-of-living crisis and high inflation. According to the RAC, motoring costs have increased by 40% since 2012, when the Approved Mileage Allowance Payment (AMAP), which as you note is used to reimburse employees and volunteers for use of their own vehicle, was last reviewed.

        CTA has been campaigning with our partners for a fair, transparent and immediate review of AMAP by HM Treasury. Our call has been backed by NCVO, SCVO, Scottish Volunteering Forum, Volunteer Scotland, Volunteering Matters, the Royal Voluntary Service, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action. You can find out more about our campaign here. We were disappointed that the Chancellor did not announce either a review or an uplift in his Spring Budget in March. You can read our response here.

        We’re also working to engage with the NHS in all four nations of the UK to encourage closer collaboration, better funding and genuine partnership working with the Community Transport sector. This is an ongoing effort and key policy priority.

    • Douglas George Gray

      09:29 1st August 2022

      Your first task must be to gain Parliamentary support for giving group B licensed drivers the tools to upgrade to D1(Vol). This could be achieved by using the MiDAS assessment for drivers. This would achieve access to new volunteer drivers, give them work experience in the public interface (thus potential to become established bus drivers) and would mean they are reassessed at least every 4 years for suitability and fitness.
      Within our Government there would be no need to seek EU approval as it wuld be a national qualification similar to some nationally administered PSV operator licences.
      I have suggested this be put before Parliament as it would only need a small regulation change in Driver Licensing.

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