ECT Charity provides door-to-door journeys for people unable to use mainstream public transport due to mobility or other difficulties, or because ordinary public transport or other services have been withdrawn from their area.
People can use door-to-door transport for a wide variety of reasons, such as shopping, attending luncheon clubs or healthcare appointments, visiting friends and family, and going on organised day-trips to local attractions.
The UK’s population is steadily ageing. The latest projections are for 5.5 million more older people in 20 years’ time and that that number will have nearly doubled to around 19 million by 2050. Within this total, the number of very old people grows even faster: there are currently 3 million people aged over 80 and this is projected to almost double by 2030 and reach 8 million by 20501.
Many older people are vulnerable to social isolation due to loss of mobility, friends and family, and even income. “Social isolation” and “loneliness” are often used interchangeably, but it is important to note that they are not one and the same. “Loneliness” is subjective – an unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship. On the other hand, “social isolation” is the objective absence or paucity of contacts and interactions between an older person and a social network.
Researchers from University College London found that both social isolation and loneliness had a detrimental impact on a person’s quality of life and well-being. Further, they found that social isolation particularly, is associated with increased risk of health problems and mortality in older people. This negative impact on health leads to an increased demand from health and social care systems.
ECT Charity is able to address the needs of older people and other groups, as for many, mainstream public transport can be frightening or inaccessible.
In a time of extensive cuts in public spending and a growing population of socially isolated older people, ECT Charity’s door-to-door accessible transport service for individuals represents a major impact on society. By enabling older people to venture out of their homes to attend social events, go shopping and visit family and friends, ECT Charity helps reduce social isolation (and in turn, health problems and mortality). Not only does ECT Charity contribute directly to members of society, but it also alleviates the pressure on the health and social care systems.
Nearly 2,000 wheelchair users and 17,000 other spectators with a range of mobility needs were able to attend this summer’s world athletics events in London, thanks to ECT Charity.