Ealing and Southall MPs travel on ECT minibuses for a morning to discover how community transport ends social isolation in their constituencies.
With the recent introduction of ECT Charity’s new Social Value Toolkit, community transport organisations across the UK are more prepared than ever before to put figures behind the benefit they bring to their communities – from battling isolation and loneliness, to providing access to health and social care services. But what better way to find out their true value than by hopping on an ECT bus?
On Friday 20th April, Ealing MPs Rupa Huq and Virendra Sharma spent the morning travelling on ECT’s signature green buses to meet the people behind the numbers.
During one of the hottest days London has seen this year, they joined journeys to collect two regular ECT passengers – Susie and Mrs Sudesh Sharma – who both use the service to go shopping for essentials.
The first stop of the day was Susie, who was accompanied on her supermarket trip in Acton by Rupa Huq. This journey with ECT is the only opportunity Susie has in her week to shop independently, which she described as a “godsend”.
After meeting Susie, Huq said: “Last month I mentioned the importance of ECT for the borough’s residents in Parliament, because I know it serves as a route out of loneliness for many. It’s amazing seeing up close the work ECT puts in to end isolation in our community on a daily basis, and meeting passengers like Susie show what a lifeline it really is.”
In Southall, MP Virendra Sharma also joined ECT bus journey, accompanying local Mrs Sudesh Sharma on her weekly groceries trip.
It was a nostalgic trip for the MP, who is a former ECT volunteer driver. He reflected on the work of the organisation continuing to end loneliness: “I was privileged enough to work as a volunteer driver in ECT’s early days, and have been thrilled to see the organisation continuing to serve people at risk of isolation like Sudesh.”
He also highlighted the role of community transport in maintaining the wellbeing of drivers as well as passengers, telling ECT that he remembers thoroughly enjoying getting to know the people he was collecting. He said: “Putting something back into the community keeps you mentally and physically active.”
He added: “Without ECT, many Southall residents would struggle to even leave their house once a week, and I hope the organisation will continue the great work it has already been doing for us for decades.”