Messages of solidarity have been flowing in to Ealing Community Transport (ECT) this week after our offers of support were taken up by the local authority and voluntary organisations.
Across the London Borough of Ealing, our teams have reorganised operations to deliver hundreds of food parcels across the borough on behalf of Ealing Council, Age UK and Ealing Foodbank.
Meanwhile, the charity continues to provide community transport where it is needed, including school transport for children of key workers.
We anticipate the need for our help is only going to increase in the coming weeks, and ECT is exploring other important ways in which we can support the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Next week, for example, we shall be starting a programme of phone calls with our ‘regulars’ – those people who would normally be minibus passengers but who are now staying at home in isolation. We will be checking if they are OK, if they need anything and providing a bit of company over the telephone.
“This is the same group of people we look after on a day-to-day basis – those who are most likely to be affected by the virus but also those who would suffer the most from being on their own for 12 weeks,” said Chief Executive Anna Whitty. “It is unthinkable to any of us that ECT wouldn’t be there for them, supporting the community, partnering with the council at the greatest hour of need, certainly in my lifetime.”
Earlier this week, Mrs Whitty acknowledged that some of the team would have been adjusting to significant changes in their lives – whether through illness or isolation. Nevertheless, she was “proud and humbled” by what the charity had been able to achieve, and by the many messages received.
“Huge thank you to @ECT_Charity and all their crew,” said Cabinet Member Councillor Mahfouz, via Twitter. “They do a phenomenal job all year around and it’s fantastic to see them step in to support the Ealing community at this critical time #EalingTogether. We’re so blessed to have such a wonderful organisation in the heart of the borough.”
A further Twitter message from Ealing Council said: “ALL HAIL our community heroes from @ECT_Charity who are delivering food parcels to local people #sociallyshielding from #COVID19.”
Also this week, some team members were featured in a short film from Ealing Council about the food parcel deliveries – entitled Ealing Together.
Husband and wife team Stuart and Mera Swift (pictured above) said one man they went out to was “completely on his own”, so was not only pleased to receive the food parcel but also appreciated “a bit of company, even if it was only for a couple of minutes”.
On a personal note, Mera added that they were unable to visit Stuart’s parents who were self-isolating in Shaftesbury – so making food parcel deliveries for ECT was a way they could give support to other elderly people in need.
Driver Jay Solanki (pictured at the top of this page with colleague Harbans Rajbans) said ECT team members were taking all the important precautions: wearing gloves, distancing and wiping down the bus with antibacterial gel before and after each delivery.
He said he wanted to help the charity play its crucial role in delivering essentials and keeping spirits up: “We may be the only people they see during the day or possibly in the whole week,” he said. “I’m doing my bit. That’s what I want to do.”
If you need ECT Charity’s support or know somebody who could benefit from our help, please get in touch. Please click here for contact information.