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Ealing Community Transport (also known as ECT) forms part of ECT Charity, which is both a charity and a social enterprise that combines business thinking with social values to deliver high quality transport services that positively benefit the local communities. ECT’s community-based door-to-door transport services help keep disabled, isolated and/or lonely people independent and mobile, as well as less isolated and lonely.
Throughout the decades, ECT Charity has been involved in driving up standards in accessible transport services both locally and through its active membership of the Community Transport Association. The Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS) and Passenger Assistant Training Scheme (PATS) lie at the heart of quality standards making sure that transport is safe for the most vulnerable members of our community.
ECT Charity has established a track record for high-quality, efficient services that users appreciate for their personal approach, safety and security. In 2012 ECT Charity delivered, as lead partner, the London 2012 Accessible Shuttles project on behalf of the Olympic Delivery Authority. Mayor Boris Johnson hailed the team “the unsung heroes” of London 2012. In 2014, ECT Charity provided a high-quality Accessible Shuttles service for the Invictus Games. In 2015, ECT Charity provided a very well received Accessible Shuttles service for the Rugby World Cup, covering all matches played at Twickenham and the Olympic Stadium throughout the six week duration of the tournament.
ECT Charity is the name used to represent our community transport companies which operate in Ealing (ECT), Cornwall, Cheshire and Dorset (DCT).
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated July 2018
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
ECT is committed to providing high quality, safe, friendly, accessible and affordable transport in local communities to voluntary, community and statutory groups. In addition to group transport, we also provide accessible and affordable transport solutions to vulnerable individuals who otherwise would not be able to leave their homes, notably the elderly and people with disabilities. We seek to enable independent living and encourage social interaction for these vulnerable people who have serious difficulty in accessing other forms of transport due to their mobility difficulties. We build partnerships with local befriending organisations in Ealing that helps us identify and encourage lonely and socially isolated elderly people to get out of their homes.
As part of our work on highlighting the issue of isolation and loneliness and the work Community Transport organisations do in being part of the solution, we launched our report Why Community Transport Matters which demonstrates the case for Community Transport in tackling the issues of Isolation and Loneliness and the significant side effects these have - both from an economic and social perspective.
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
The community transport solutions provided by ECT have each been developed to cover a specifically identified and unmet local transport need. Its target market comprises of those people who are unable to use mainstream public transport due to mobility or other difficulties, or because public transport or other services have been withdrawn.
We use the resources from our transport contracts with public bodies to support our charitable community transport activities, which include transport for individuals and transport for voluntary and community sector (VCS) groups :
- ECT’s transport service for individuals, the “PlusBus” service, offers door-to-door journeys for residents unable to use public transport and those living in isolation. This can include demand-responsive services for shopping and other social reasons.
- ECT’s group transport service provides safe, affordable and accessible minibuses to VCS groups, assisting them in achieving their own objectives.
In 2016/17 we provided transport to 15,000 individuals and 210 voluntary groups in Ealing, delivering 227,500 trips.
Over the years, ECT has been implementing new approaches to tackle loneliness and isolation. Building partnerships with other organisations has proven particularly effective identifying lonely people and helping them to go out. As a result we have been able to reach more people and save public money, both directly and indirectly.
The PlusBus for Health is an example of how ECT has been building partnerships to increase its social impact. ECT identified that access to transport is one of the biggest barriers to regular engagement with healthcare for lonely and isolated individuals. As a result, Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group (ECCG) commissioned ECT to provide community transport services to enable older and disabled residents to attend GP appointments. Initially a pilot, our PlusBus for Health service has been so successful that it has been fully commissioned by ECCG and now operates throughout the Borough for all GP practices. We are expecting to facilitate over 4,000 GP appointments this year by enabling patients who would not otherwise be able to come to the surgery to attend appointments. This service reduces house calls, missed appointments and, as these patients are now able to attend regular appointments, they are less likely to be an emergency admission to hospital.
We have found that using PlusBus for Health transport has improved the confidence of users and they are now more likely to use our door-to-door transport for other types of trips and live independently.
We also regularly speak at conferences and to local government officials to highlight this issue and the solution and value that community transport adds in helping to address this.
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
By providing transport to otherwise isolated or excluded people, community transport contributes to reducing isolation and developing sustainable communities. These door-to-door services, delivered using wheelchair accessible vehicles, are often the only way in which some individuals can go out of their homes. It enables users to live independently: shopping, socialising with friends and going on day trips. In the UK, 30% of older people in the UK say they would like to go out more often. 80% of ECT’s PlusBus door-to-door passengers said they would find it significantly harder or impossible to go out without our services.
Community transport increases social interactions and improves the physical and mental wellbeing of isolated people. In the UK, 17% of older people have no contact with family, friends or neighbours all week. 85% of ECT’s PlusBus passengers said that our service has made them feel more confident and 97% said that it has made them feel better.
Our report Why Community Matters released in January 2016 contributed to raise awareness on loneliness and isolation in our Borough. We are delighted that the London Borough of Ealing (LBE) in response launched its Charter to end loneliness and isolation in March 2016.
1) TNS Loneliness survey for Age UK, April 2014 ; cited in Age UK (2014) Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life
2) C. Victor et al. (2003) Loneliness, Social Isolation and Living Alone in Later Life ; cited in Age UK (2014) Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life
4) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
Our activity level KPIs help us monitor every quarter the number of individual and group trips we provide to the community. We also collect wellbeing information from our users when they start using the service in our membership form and have conducted user surveys. We also regularly interview our users and compile case studies.
We are currently conducting an impact evaluation on the PlusBus for Health service we provide under contract of the Ealing CCG. Through this service, we provide community transport services to enable older and disabled residents who would not otherwise be able to come to the GP surgery to attend their health appointments. The evaluation entails collecting quantitative and qualitative data to assess the impact our transport service as had on patients’ health and on GP surgery activity level (reduction in missed appointments, reduction in home visits etc.)
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How many people have benefitted from your actions?
In 2016/17 we provided transport to 15,000 individuals and 210 voluntary groups in Ealing, delivering 227,500 trips.
During the year ending March 2017, ECT’s community transport activities have created additional social value worth £823,600 to the community. This measures the following outcomes: enabling independent living, facilitating social interaction, enabling affordable trips for voluntary and community groups and supporting the voluntary sector.
6) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
Case study: Bob and Jill P
Bob is 82 years old and is a wheelchair user. He lives with his wife, Jill, also over 80, who is his primary carer. Jill was finding it hard to leave the house with her husband due to the expense of taxi fares and the difficulty of accommodating Bob’s wheelchair in the vehicles. Despite having each other and living in such an urban area, they felt isolated and cut off from the outside world. Their lives changed five years ago when they started using community transport in Ealing.
Jill told us: “Most of the time we travel together and the driver takes us from our home to the nearby luncheon club or occasionally to the clinic. We really enjoy seeing our friends at the club. It’s so much nicer than only chatting with them on the phone. Bob and I always feel very happy after a trip out of the house. It’s good to laugh and hear other people’s stories. I would worry about Bob’s mental health a lot more if he didn’t have that chance to get out of the house. It’s hard for him being in a wheelchair and being cared for. I think it also helps me stay positive as I feel that there are people around us supporting us. It’s nice for our children and grandchildren to see that we are able to still feel part of the community.”
Case study: Ethel
ECT passenger Ethel is a testament to how community transport can help older members of the community maintain their independence. Having turned 100 years old in March 2016, Ethel had been using the PlusBus service in Ealing for over 10 years. Originally using PlusBus to get out and about with her husband, Ethel now uses the service to go shopping and visit the hairdresser for regular haircuts. She says that without it, she would have to move to an old people’s home.
Ethel told us: “The PlusBus service has a huge impact on my independence. It helps me to remain living independently in my own home. If I wasn’t out and about doing different things on different days, I would go mad!”
Ethel’s daughter, said: “It’s so important that people like my mum are able to stay in their own homes rather than having to move into supportive housing or care homes. Little bits and pieces, like access to accessible transport, all add up and help her world go round and keep her independent.”
Case study: Memory groups with West London Mental Health Trust’s Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Service (CIDS)
People living with dementia benefit greatly from support groups run by the West London Mental Health Trust’s Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Service (CIDS). Accessing these groups via public transport is unfortunately not an option for the majority of patients. However Kianna Compton, assistant clinical psychologist at CIDS, was determined that these important groups should be more accessible to those most in need, so she got in touch with ECT to see what could be done. Kianna arranged for ECT to pick up patients using our specialist door-to-door PlusBus transport services, and drive them safely to and from their memory groups.
Kianna explains: “What drew me to ECT was the fact that they can provide transport for more than one patient at a time, and the PlusBus ‘Big Green Buses’ made it easy to explain to patients what to look out for, and even remember over time. The same drivers pick particular patients up each week, which is great as consistency is really important for our patients to feel confident in their surroundings. If it was not for the support of the ECT team, our activities would not have been accessible to many of our memory groups’ patients. Since registering with ECT, the CIDS patient attendance has risen from an average of 65% to 97% attendance from referral stage to completion of the programmes.”
Jim, CIDS service user, said: "The service has been working really well - it makes attending these groups possible for me. The drivers are always on time and polite and they can drive much better than I ever could!"
Case study: Day trips with the Multiple Sclerosis Society
ECT has worked with voluntary and community organisations to organise day trips for vulnerable members of community groups in Ealing. For many older or disabled people, getting away over the summer months is not an option, as mainstream transport services do not accommodate those with mobility difficulties and other reasons. ECT’s Group Transport service enables voluntary or community organisations (including charities, social groups and schools) to access affordable, accessible minibuses so that they can provide services and trips (both regular and one-off day opportunities) to their members. This summer, day trips facilitated by ECT 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. Getting away on these outings and day trips is equivalent to a "holiday" in itself for isolated people.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch), long-standing members of ECT, booked transport for 40 of its members, including 7 wheelchair users, to Kew Gardens. The Chair 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 fulfil our objectives as a charity; otherwise we couldn’t get our members to our events.”
Multiple Sclerosis Society (Ealing and District Branch) member, Aisha, 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. 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.”
7) What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?
Our model sees us reinvest our surplus each year to provide subsidised transport to groups, which enables them to carry out their activities.
ECT recognises that the cost of transport can be a barrier for local voluntary and community groups in delivering their services, broadening their range of services for members and be accessible to all whatever their mobility. Our Transport Fund seeks to remove these barriers by providing credit worth up to £1,000 to voluntary and community organisations in Ealing to offset the cost of transport provided by ECT. By doing so, we aim to support these organisations in creating social opportunities for isolated individuals.
Most recently, thanks to the Fund, ECT is transporting lonely and isolated residents to tea parties hosted by firefighters at Acton Fire Station. Social opportunities such as these are of huge value to the health and wellbeing of the community.
8) What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?
ECT is committed to minibus safety in the wider community. We provide Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS) training to drivers for organisations who operate their own minibuses.
ECT has created a methodology whereby other community transport organisations can measure their social value (described in detail above).
ECT’s CEO is heavily involved in the local community, a prominent member of a variety of committees and scrutiny panels representing the local Community Voluntary Sector, making sure their voices are heard.
ECT’s CEO is Chair of a London Forum of community transport operators.
ECT’s CEO is Chair of Mobility Matters, a campaign group set up to ensure that CT organisations in the UK are able to continue to operate to meet the diverse travel needs of individuals and communities, and that appropriate operational legislation is in place to achieve this.
9) What social and environmental benefits have you created from internal operational policies and actions?
Our internal operational policies support the delivery of our charitable transport activities. We maximise the use of our fleet of vehicles to benefit the communities we work with. This means for instance using vehicles to transport lonely individuals or community groups during off-peak hours.
In providing a minibus resource which is shared by a variety of community groups, it reduces the number of minibuses in the community which are parked up and rarely used.