Many people assume that ‘community transport’ is part of the local council – after all, it provides important public services that get vulnerable or isolated people out of their homes to the places they need to be in their local communities, from shopping trips to visiting the GP.
But, as ECT’s chief executive Anna Whitty tells host Leon Daniels in his popular Lunch with Leon podcast, this is a common misapprehension.
In fact, she tells Leon – over their online, ‘Covid-safe’ lunch conversation – although transport is seen as a statutory service, many people are not able to access mainstream public transport that meets their needs.
As an independent charity, Ealing Community Transport focuses on supporting these people who “fall between the gaps”, says Anna. “I’ve made it a lifetime mission to particularly reach lonely and isolated people, people who no longer have a voice.”
Anna explains to Leon – who himself is the former boss of Transport for London – why providing a door-to-door, rather than ‘kerb-to-kerb’, transport service is so important for such passengers.
They also chat about ECT’s role in providing accessible transport during the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, and how it demonstrated to the world what good accessible transport looks like.
They then move on to discuss the safety and caring component of community transport operations, as well as MiDAS (Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) and the high standards ECT sets with regards to recruitment and training of drivers.
Anna closes by explaining how her staff pulled together to those in need as the ‘Hidden Heroes’ of their communities during the first Covid lockdown.