Ealing Community Transport (ECT) understands the incredible impact that a day out can have for elderly people and those living with dementia – from broadening their expectations of where they are still able to visit, to reducing their feelings of isolation.
Thanks to ECT’s Transport Fund, community groups can apply for funding to offset the cost of travel for these types of trips. Read on to discover how one group used this funding to organise outings for members of a Day Centre for people living with dementia.
Spread across 300 acres and home to more than 50,000 plants, London’s Kew Gardens makes a very peaceful setting for a summer stroll. For Jennifer Forrester-Powell, Director and Day Centre Manager at the Clementina Day Centre, it was the perfect place to visit on a day trip for their members living with dementia. “It’s very serene. I think those types of environments are good, not just for older people but everyone, to de-stress them.”
The group spent the day walking around the gardens’ beautiful trees and colourful flower displays, as well as taking some time to relax at the café. It was a true antidote to the loneliness and isolation felt by some members. “Many of our day centre members live alone,” says Jennifer. “So being among other people out and about is nice for them.”
Organising group excursions can be a big job, but having ECT to help with the transport took off some of the pressure for Jennifer. “ECT had the timings for collecting everyone all organised, which did a lot of the job for me and the team.”
The cost of the day’s transport was covered by ECT, thanks to a grant the Clementina Day Centre recently received from ECT’s Transport Fund. The fund helps support local organisations create social opportunities for isolated individuals through local accessible community transport – successful applicants can receive up to £1,000 to offset the cost of transport provided by ECT.
In addition to taking the group on outings, ECT has been providing transport for members to attend the Day Centre – which welcomes up to 20 members three times a week – for the past four years. Families of the Day Centre’s members tell Jennifer that they feel confident that their loved ones are being cared for as soon as they are picked up from their front door. “The drivers go above and beyond a typical transport service,” she says. “They are compassionate with our members, and they give really helpful feedback about how everyone seemed on the bus in the morning – if someone doesn’t appear well, they let us know.”
The Day Centre does not have sufficient funding for its own transport service, and its members – many of whom are cognitively impaired – say that travelling by taxi or public transport can be frightening. Jean, a Day Centre member, says: “Transport with ECT means I can attend the Centre, which breaks up my week. It gives me something to do that I enjoy.”
Jennifer believes that without ECT, many members would have great difficulty attending the Day Centre. “People would be unable to leave their homes. But together, ECT and the Day Centre are providing vital opportunities for people to form friendships, and the knock-on effect of that is they live longer, they’re healthier, they’re happier.”
Thanks to the grant, Jennifer has been busy planning a packed schedule of group outings for the rest of the year. These include a trip to Hanwell Zoo, a dementia-friendly screening of the classic 1942 film Casablanca, and a Christmas lights tour in December. The Day Centre members will also be returning to Kew Gardens in October for a Dementia Friendly Health Walk and a Tool Shed garden activity led by the staff at Kew.
Anna Whitty MBE, Chief Executive at ECT, says the fund is a key part of ECT’s charitable aim to support local organisations in ending social isolation. “We really value partnerships like the one we have with the Clementina Day Centre,” says Anna. “So we’re thrilled that the fund has given them a boost in the work they are doing to end loneliness – especially to settings as beautiful and calming as Kew Gardens.”
If your community or voluntary group is providing new community-based activities, it might be eligible for up to £1,000 of funding for transport. Find out more here.