Hundreds of London’s vulnerable and elderly residents enjoyed lunch, laughter and friendship on Christmas Day, thanks to the capital’s dedicated community transport providers.
Every 25 December, London’s public transport system shuts down entirely, leaving the most vulnerable people at risk of spending Christmas alone.
But, as in previous years, staff and volunteers from London’s community transport organisations gave up precious time with their families and friends to ensure that others less fortunate than themselves could get out and about.
Anna Whitty, Chief Executive of Ealing Community Transport and Chair of the London Strategic Community Transport Forum, said: “While the rest of the country closes down on Christmas Day, community transport keeps moving.
“This is a great example of why community transport is vital to our communities. Not only on Christmas Day, but throughout the year, we work hard to end loneliness and isolation which can have such a terrible impact on so many people.”
A total of 19 community transport providers sent 92 buses out across London, aided by an army of cheerful volunteers and staff. Ealing Community Transport joined the effort, and took people who would otherwise be alone to the borough’s Salvation Army Christmas lunch.
ECT volunteer Linda said: “Our guests were collected by minibus or car and they were all ready and waiting, looking forward to the day ahead. Lunch was a great success and we all watched the Queen’s Speech after tea or coffee and mince pies. At the end of the day, we took many very happy and contented people home.”
Wandsworth Community Transport were champions in this year’s effort, ensuring that more than 400 disabled and older people could get to lunch at Battersea Park Rotary Club.
Manuel Button, Managing Director of Wandsworth Community Transport, said: “The Rotary Club lunch has been running for over 50 years; it’s huge. This year, our whole Wandsworth fleet of buses got involved, along with buses sent from the council and neighbouring community transport operators too.
“The tradition gives the borough’s isolated and elderly people a lot of fun and a decent meal on Christmas Day.”