ECT in Cheshire makes independent travel less daunting for elderly people and those who struggle with mainstream transport – ensuring passengers always feel safe and supported when exploring new places.
In our latest Journey Makers feature, we discover how community transport has transformed the way members of an organisation supporting the elderly in Chester feel about getting out and about.
One year ago, the idea of heading out for a day trip somewhere new seemed like a frightening prospect to many members of Here and Now, a social enterprise that works to enhance the lives of elderly and isolated people in Chester.
But since being introduced to ECT in Cheshire’s services in September 2018, attitudes have changed for regulars attending Here and Now’s learning and social groups, which welcome around 70 people every week.
Karen Smith, Here and Now’s Voluntary Director and Team Leader, explains how:
“Many people lack the confidence to travel independently, so for some of our members the buses have enabled them to go out for a meal or to a garden centre for the first time in years.
“One lady told me she hadn’t had a meal out and a glass of wine for ten years because she was too afraid to go out on her own, but she recently enjoyed a trip out to eat with us all.
“From starting out as very apprehensive, now they’re always asking, ‘When’s the next trip planned?’, ‘Where are we going?’. They feel safe and cared for by the drivers, so they’re no longer fearful of travelling alone.”
Karen says that thanks to ECT in Cheshire’s accessible minibuses, they can now include people of all mobility levels when planning days out.
“Before, our group members who use walking aids and wheelchairs were not able to come along on trips, because I couldn’t afford to hire a private coach with a tail lift. But now we can all go out together.”
Karen adds that she is now able to offer a greater range of experiences to group members than ever before.
“We only used to go on about one or two trips a year. Most of our volunteers are ladies over 60 who don’t drive, so we’d use a taxi, but we were very limited on where we could go because of the cost.
“But since we started to use the buses eight months ago, we’ve been on about eight or nine trips already. We’ve been out to garden centres, cream teas and meals out, and we’re hoping to book a trip to the theatre soon.”
Karen reports that some of her members have had such a positive experience with ECT in Cheshire that they are now also using the charity’s PlusBus service, which picks up individuals straight from their door for trips out to the shops, or wherever else they might need to go.
“Some of the ladies are now using the PlusBus service to go out independently too, because going on our trips has built up their confidence to travel alone. So the service has opened up a new world for our members.”
Anna Whitty MBE, CEO of ECT Charity said “This is a fabulous example of how the introduction of safe and affordable transport can change the lives of isolated individuals who have lost confidence to go out alone. Being able to travel to visit friends or go shopping is crucial to maintaining independent living, and it is great that our passengers get to discover a new world on the way!”
Find out more about ECT in Cheshire’s door-to-door PlusBus service here.
Find out more about the different types of transport services we offer in Cheshire here.