Is it a car, is it a train? No! Its Community Transport to the rescue again!
But what are community transport (CT) organisations? Are they bus companies? Cab companies? What do they do exactly, and who do they do it for? Who owns a CT? Who runs them? Are they private profit-making companies or are they charities and not-for-profit organisations? Why does community transport matter? For the answers to these questions and more, read on….
So first off, let’s answer the question of ‘what does a CT do exactly, and who do they do it for?’ Let’s start with us, Westway CT.
Westway CT (previously KCCT) was established in 1991 and initially registered as an Industrial and Provident Society run by its members – local community groups and organisations serving the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC). The organisation was set up to provide transport services for those who need them most.
In 2018 Westway CT is now a Registered Society and Exempt Charity, serving over 700 registered member groups and 2,000 individual members across RBKC, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Camden. Our mission has not changed since the day we first opened, and without our services, many local people would most definitely not be able to live life as independently as they do now.
We provide a range of services:
We offer a fleet of standard and fully accessible minibuses through our Group Transport Service. Minibuses with the ability to accommodate up to two wheelchair users at a time, as well as up to 14 additional passengers in each bus, to hundreds of local community groups and voluntary organisations nearby. Supplying minibuses with drivers or if one of their volunteers have the correct driving qualifications, they can drive the bus themselves, saving money all around.
Every morning our gates open and our Home-to-School Minibuses take to the roads to begin the first of the day’s school runs; taking local children to a school across four of London’s most vibrant, bustling boroughs; the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Camden. The school runs happen every weekday during term time. The children are taken to school in the mornings and then home again in the afternoons. We often transport the children on their school trips to museums, theatres, trips to the coast, all sorts; it’s great fun. We provide this same service to other types of education providers and organisations too, such as special educational needs schools, disability centres, community centres and pupil referral units, using fully accessible vehicles.
Every weekday we run a service of fully accessible minibuses in both RBKC and Westminster to take local people who may not find it easy to use public transport, to their local supermarkets. They may be elderly, disabled or just need a little extra help and our shopper buses provide them with a door to door service that public transport just can’t match. Shopper Buses travel to larger supermarkets twice a day in both RBKC and Westminster. Westway CT’s drivers always lend a hand with bags and trolleys and have never let a passenger forget to take their pound back out of a shopping trolley yet.
Again both are delivered to RBKC and Westminster residents. Whether it’s a trip to the post office, the local community centre, the hairdressers, or a visit to the GP, our group of amazing volunteers are the driving force behind this fantastic service. Providing individual door to door journeys all day every day. It’s incredible what some cars and the kindness of volunteers can do. Driving the cars isn’t the only type of voluntary work available at Westway CT either, now and then we look for volunteer Passenger Assistants, and an Office Administration role may come up once in a while. Full training is always provided so that you can gain new skills and qualifications at the same time. If you would like to Volunteer, see more here.
Are available in our offices for RBKC and Westminster Residents. If you don’t need to go quite so far as to require a bus or a car, you can always pop in and use one of the Scooters available. These environmentally friendly fully electric four-wheeled scooters are always charged up ready to go right here from our offices just off Portobello Road, and they’re perfect for when you would like to get out and about on your own. Members can even find two of the scooters in Holland Park. Just ask at the park’s office where they keep the deckchairs.
Private Hire Cars
Or you may call them minicabs. Green CT Cars (GCT) are Westway CT’s very own fully accessible minicabs. Dozens of local companies have accounts with GCT Cars to keep their people moving, and we even offer a courier car service too. Providing an accessible service to NHS patients and carers in the local community to take them to and from health-related appointments. Green CT Cars also provides minicab services to the general public, so if you need a standard or accessible car, you can call and book just as you would with any other cab company.
Working on behalf of TfL Westway CT operate six fully accessible minibuses across the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Camden. We do this every day, seven days a week. Again, this is a door to door service that usual public transport can’t match and like most of the other services it is a vital lifeline to the people that use it. Taking individuals shopping, to health care appointments, to bingo, the library or just about anywhere else they need to go within a five-mile radius of their home address. We don’t take bookings from members for this service. Instead, Dial-a-Ride informs us who we need to collect and when. So if you are interested in Dial-a-Ride, you will need to contact them directly.
So with all these different services and all these different types of vehicles working with so many diverse groups of often vulnerable people, Westway CT’s drivers, volunteers and other staff need to be trained to the highest standards possible. We achieve a higher standard from our drivers and volunteers by providing most of our training in-house. Everything from the theory of driving larger public service vehicles to practical driving assessments. Accessible MiDAS (Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) training in the use of specialist fully accessible minibuses and cars and in using their equipment. First Aid Training and Passenger Assistant Training so that each driver has a thorough basic knowledge of how best to help and support the people they serve and how to keep them safe; we can deliver it all.
Providing professional training is another way that Westway CT ensures compliance with all the latest laws and legislation related to operating and driving a passenger carrying vehicles. It’s not just our drivers who are trained to a high standard. We train many of the staff who use the Group Transport services such as youth workers and teachers from the local schools. Enabling our membership to up-skill their workforces and reduce the costs of their future transport requirements because their people can then do the driving for them.
We run courses for the unemployed called the Drive Time Project, where residents are referred to us from the local job centres, and we equip them with the skills and qualifications to drive larger vehicles professionally, helping them back into work.
Our full list of training courses is available here
So we hope we’ve answered most of the questions. Yes, we are a bus company. Yes, we are a minicab company. Yes, we offer lots more such as training. We are many things. Above all, we are a Not-for-Profit Registered Society, a Social Enterprise and an Exempt Charity. In plain language? Being a Social Enterprise means that our central aim is to use our surplus income to maximise our positive social and environmental impact. In other words; to reinvest any profits into improving the lives of our local and broader community and the people we serve through the services we deliver and to generate jobs and careers, locally.
Why do we matter? Our work to help break the cycle of loneliness and end social isolation is ongoing and, that’s a whole other article that you can read more about here.
That just leaves the question of who runs us? Who better? The very people we serve. Our Board of Trustees and Management Team oversee everything we do, made up mostly of the very people whom we serve. This way we ensure that those who are leading our organisation are committed to the ethos, ethics and values that we hold dear and are the strengths that enable us to make a real difference to our local community and society as a whole. Who better to look after the future of the people we serve than those very people themselves. If you are interested in becoming a Trustee for us, get in touch! We would like to hear from you.
That’s it in a nutshell, but just in case you do have any more questions, or you want further information about anything mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can email us, call us on 020 8964 4928, or pop in and see us.
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