4 new minibuses have been delivered to Communty360 thanks to the North East Essex Alliance investment fund which was made available by North East Essex CCG.
An agreement from NHS England allowed them to take advantage of non-recurrent drawdown of available reserves, to support transformation projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the local population, the fund for 2019/20 was £2.4m.
The North East Essex Alliance Board agreed that the funding would be split across 3 priority areas of prevention and reducing inequalities, community model of care, and system integration. There was strong agreement from across health and care partners that a significant amount of funding should be used to support voluntary and community service groups. Voluntary and community sector representatives were involved at all stages of the process from development of proposals, prioritisation and evaluation, and the final investment decision making.
Mark Jarman-Howe, Chair of the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance said: “We’re delighted to have been able to support several community-based initiatives from our investment fund this year. In particular we recognise how important community transport is to tackle isolation and ensuring people can take advantage of the services, groups and activities available to them in their communities. We congratulate Community360 and their partners for their important work providing community transport and pleased to be able to help further develop their capacity with this funding.”
He added: “The North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Board is a partnership of NHS, local authority and voluntary sector organisations with a shared aim to transform the health and wellbeing of the local population by working together. The Alliance recognises the vital role of voluntary and community sector organisations in supporting individuals, families and communities to live happy and healthy lives”
Community360 currently operates separately funded bus routes and excursions, open for all to use within the district of Colchester & Maldon. They currently serve over 700 members and 70 community groups in Colchester to access activities ranging from therapy sessions, GP appointments and activities to live independently (i.e. shopping). In the last year they have completed over 50,000 journeys.
The majority of the Community Transport membership is aged over 65, has one or more medical conditions or experiences mobility issues or frailty.
Community360 CEO Tracy Rudling said: “Our Community Transport Service provides accessibility and mobility to the most vulnerable residents across the Colchester Borough area. This money has enabled us to purchase 4 new minibuses which will definitely improve transport provision for people in the local community who cannot access public transport due to limited mobility, or who would otherwise be socially excluded or geographically isolated through rurality. The scheme currently operates with a fleet of wheelchair accessible minibuses and a pool of volunteer drivers using their own vehicles whom are our unsung heroes and without we could not run our service.”
Pam Green, Chief Operating Officer of the North East Essex CCG and Executive Lead of the Alliance said: “The CCG is delighted that via the health and wellbeing Alliance that it has been able to invest in community transport. We are committed to reducing health inequalities and transport is key to that for the most vulnerable in our society. The conversations and connections the voluntary sector can have with people whilst using the transport service can really change lives’ ‘so thank you Community360 for setting up this service in such an innovative way”
The minibus handover coincided with Community360’s Volunteers and Transport Members Christmas party held in Tiptree. Over 100 guests attended including Joy Howard, who was celebrating her 100th birthday and a transport member for over 15 years and David Wright a volunteer driver who has been volunteering for over 17 years. The new Chair of Community360, Annie Felton, was also welcomed
Photo shows: Left to right front row: Annie Felton, Community360, Pam Green, CCG, Mark Jarman-Howe, NEE Alliance and Tracy Rudling, Community360 along with guess from the Volunteers and Transport Party