Along for the Ride — ECT and Community Transport

David Tinnion (Associate, Oct ’14) and Antonia Orr (Fellow, Oct ’13) had 6 month placements at ECT Charity (“ECT”) and here they explain why Community Transport is something really worth shouting about.

Essential transport support
Essential transport support

Community Transport schemes across the country facilitate community engagement and improve quality of life by providing transport for local community groups and elderly or vulnerable individuals who cannot access mainstream public transport. Here are our thoughts about what makes ECT special:

ECT is sustainable and scalable. At On Purpose, we’re often reminded that social enterprises need to be sustainable and scalable — ECT is both. The charity operates transport contracts for Local Councils, the NHS and TfL, which enable ECT to invest for the long term and underpin its charitable work. ECT has replicated its model in Ealing, Dorset, Cheshire and Cornwall, scaling up so that more people benefit.

“Door-to-door” service
“Door-to-door” service

ECT goes the extra few yards. Not all transport is equal. Taxi-style “kerb-to-kerb” services are unsuitable for ECT’s elderly passengers — the few yards from their front door to the roadside might as well be a mile! We’ve both been deeply impressed by the care and dignity with which we’ve seen ECT’s drivers help elderly passengers from their front door to waiting minibuses.

ECT innovates and enables. While we’ve been at ECT, the charity has launched a new service to transport patients to GP surgeries. One passenger was able to attend her appointment without her daughter travelling all the way from Surrey to help her — a good example of how the service will help improve care and reduce the need for GP home visits. We’ve also been helping ECT build partnerships with local befriending organisations in Ealing to encourage lonely and socially isolated elderly people to get out of their homes. The scheme’s first passenger was a 92-year-old woman who had not left her home for over two years — she can’t wait for her next trip to M&S!

ECT provides leadership in the voluntary and social enterprise sectors. Since completing the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers scheme, ECT has led the development of a social value methodology for Community Transport and worked with Deloitte to report on how Community Transport can help reduce the economic costs of loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly. The charity led the London 2012 Accessible Shuttles project and helped to make the 2014 Invictus Games accessible to all, showcasing how social enterprise can support even the largest global events.

It seems that once you’re through the depot doors, there’s no reverse gear: On Purpose Fellows Antonia Orr and Caroline Murray-Lyon are still working at ECT long after completing their placements!

ECT’s Green Machine ready for (social) action
ECT’s Green Machine ready for (social) action