Why Community Transport (CT) Matters
We’re not the first people to ask, why community transport matters? It’s a question that has been asked many times and a subject of much debate and research. There have been studies, reports, and announcements from government ministers and all kinds of facts and figures. They all make for compelling reading and indeed, we at Westway CT are proud contributors to previous studies and reports that reveal the enormous benefits that community transport schemes have on peoples’ lives and the public purse.
Proven beyond any shadow of a doubt; community transport schemes reduce pressure on public services; combating the economic cost of loneliness and isolation, saving money and offering the potential to save even more money; hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money each year.
Never was there stronger evidence for any funding provided to put money into a well-run community transport scheme. Two case studies, written by ECT Charity and Deloitte, to which both Andrew Kelly and Kathleen Lyons of Westway CT contributed, formed the report ‘Why Community Transport Matters ‘. This report was written specifically to help community transport organisations make a compelling case to commissioners, local authorities and other funders on the value of their services; by reducing the economic cost of loneliness and isolation and in demonstrating their social value.
So robust was the evidence of this ground-breaking report that a benchmark set of standards known as the ‘Practical Measurement Framework Toolkit’ was created in partnership with the London Strategic Community Transport Forum for community transport organisations, to use when making their cases for financial longevity.
If you haven’t read ‘Why Community Transport Matters’, we would highly recommend you have a look. If you’re not already convinced about why community transport matters? You will be after reading these reports.
So, with all this compelling, robust, factual evidence that proves that community transport really does matter, why are we still asking the question?
Why are we, much like the Grinch from the Dr Seuss story who pondered the question ‘Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store? Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more?’
We at Westway CT have been asking ‘Maybe community transport isn’t just driving door to door. Maybe community transport…perhaps…means a little bit more?’
In a community transport organisation like Westway CT; with of over 50 support staff made up of full-time, part-time paid staff and volunteers. Of these people, only three or four (the Directors and senior management), ever need to get involved with or have to think about all of this research and evidence. That’s their job. For the other 46 people in the organisation and to the thousands of passengers conveyed each year, the charts, graphs and targets of completed journeys for the previous quarters are not something drivers think about in their everyday lives.
If you ask someone like Jay, who used to be a driver but now works as a coordinator at Westway CT, why community transport matters? This is the kind of thing you’ll hear.
“Every driver at Westway CT is required to complete CPD (Continual Professional Development), and, we’re encouraged to keep up to date with the latest news about our industry and to take an interest in it. It’s excellent, and it means that you get a sense of where and how we fit into the grand scheme of things. Westway CT provides us with all the latest magazines and articles in the team room. I’ve read a lot of these, and they’re full of many uplifting stories about the difference community transport makes to peoples’ lives. But it seems to me that in these stories it’s always about the destination. It’s the destination, the place or event that people are being driven to that is what’s breaking the cycle of loneliness and isolation. It’s the number of people taken to the Olympics or the number of people taken to the theatre, the rugby or the seaside. It’s numbers, stats and the on-trend event or place that makes up the stories. But we know that the benefits of community transport begin way before people reach their destination”.
“For me, it starts when you get your schedule for the following day, and you see that you’ve got one of your regular runs with regular passengers who you’ve come to know. You know it’s going to be cold in the morning, so you get the heating on in the bus as soon as possible, so it’s warm when you arrive to pick up your first passenger. You know that your first pick up is Mrs so and so, and she likes to sit in a specific seat, and because she can’t bend her left leg too well, you always move that chair back a little bit. You know that Mr so and so likes listening to Capital Gold on the radio, so you tune it in, ready. You know these people’s names, you know how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren they have. You know that Miss so and so’s cat had to go to the vet last week, so you make sure to ask how ‘Puddles’ is doing”.
At Westway CT, we know that breaking the cycle of loneliness begins before we even pick someone up…..”
Hear more from Jay below…
So there you have it. It is worth asking the question again. And we’ll keep asking just to remind ourselves that what we do really does matter. When we arrive to collect someone, and we make sure the bus is warm, or move a seat to give someone a bit more space, tune the radio to their favourite station, and remember to ask how the cat got on at the vet – every time we do that we make someone’s life a little better.
We care more about the people and the journey than their destination. We care more about the people than the numbers or the charts, graphs and targets of completed trips. For us, it’s about more than just the numbers. It’s about those who can use community transport. Do you know who they are? Read our article, Who can use Community Transport? To find out more about the people who use our services.
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