For many of us, one of the real highlights of summer is taking a much anticipated summer holiday away. The excitement builds for weeks and the break, we all feel, is well deserved and much needed. A week or two in the sun or the great outdoors or simply a change of scenery promises to rejuvenate us leaving us ready to take on whatever the next few months have to throw at us.
However for many socially isolated people, particularly elderly or disabled people, that much needed break and variety is simply out of the question. Why? Because often, getting out and about when having mobility difficulties can be extremely difficult if one doesn’t have a strong support network around. Mainstream transport can be almost impossible to use for those with mobility difficulties. This often means that those who are already struggling with access to things many of us take for granted become even more isolated and lonely.
On top of struggling with transport, many elderly and disabled people have individual health needs which prevent them from holidaying away from their homes. For these individuals, getting away on outings and day trips is the equivalent of a holiday. Voluntary and community organisations are well aware of the huge importance of these trips to the lives of those who are socially isolated. A change of scenery even for a day can make a huge difference to brightening up someone’s life and ECT has been working hard with these organisations to help vulnerable groups have welcome mini breaks this summer.
In July, MS Society took 40 members on a day trip to Kew Gardens and ECT provided the transport to make this trip a reality. With 7 wheelchair users and a large group of people with varying degrees of mobility, accessible transport was critical. From the normal routine of being stuck in their houses all day long, members had a trip to the wonderful gardens in Kew, a great opportunity to meet others and for many the excursion was one of the brightest and most exciting parts of their summer.
The social and economic value of improving accessibility for vulnerable and isolated people cannot be underestimated. This is something CTs across the country believe passionately in and gradually as more research is done on this space, the value of what CTs have to offer with a truly accessible and door-to-door service is becoming clearer. As well as helping to reduce loneliness and isolation, increasingly there is evidence to suggest that there is a significant indirect economic benefit to providing vulnerable and socially isolated groups with means to access mainstream life. Watch this space for updates.
For more information on Ealing Community Transport take a look at their website and a recent news article about the work that they did over the summer.
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.