Ealing Community Transport (ECT) has worked with voluntary and community organisations to reduce social isolation amongst vulnerable community groups in Ealing this summer.
For many elderly or disabled people, getting away over the summer months is not an option, as mainstream transport services do not accommodate those with mobility difficulties. Public transport can be a challenge, contributing to loneliness and isolation.
ECT’s Group Transport service provides affordable, accessible minibuses for voluntary or community organisations, including charities, social groups and schools. In doing so, ECT aims to deliver a public benefit by supporting participation, engagement and enabling local people to have more opportunities, including getting away.
Anna Whitty, Chief Executive, ECT, said: “For some individuals in our community, their needs are such that holidaying away from their homes is not an option. Getting away on these outings and day trips is equivalent to a "holiday" in itself. ECT’s larger, accessible vehicles make it possible for community groups to plan these big trips away. “
This summer’s schedule has included outings across London, including Kew Gardens, RAF Museum and Richmond Park, as well as further afield, to Brighton, Southend and Chessington World of Adventures.
In July, the Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch), long-standing members of ECT, booked transport for 40 of its members to Kew Gardens, seven of which were wheelchair users.
Michael Twomey, Chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch), said: “It’s so important for such a large group of our members to get together, get out and enjoy different activities, and ECT allows us to do that. Some of our members have very limited mobility, and are reliant on the accessible transport that ECT provides. The alternative is trying to organise taxis, which is an expensive option and we certainly could not afford to do that every day. We try and use income from charitable donations as best we can. ECT’s affordable transport helps us to fulfill our objectives as a charity, otherwise we couldn’t get our members to our events.
He continued: “We have always used ECT – the drivers are friendly and interested, and they provide an excellent service. We feel very lucky to have ECT in the borough.”
Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch) member, Althea Khan, has been on a number of trips with ECT over the summer, including Kew Gardens. She said: “ Lots of the people on these trips are disabled and wouldn’t get a chance to go anywhere over the summer without ECT - they’d be stuck in their house all day long. I wouldn’t be able to go very far at all – I have a motorised wheelchair.
She continued: “These trips are great – I love meeting people, everyone’s nice and we always have a lovely day out. The drivers will do everything possible to make it a good trip. I don’t know what we would do without this service.”