Community bus service returns
10th August 2021
A community bus scheme for people living in rural areas of Epping and Harlow is back up and running after nearly a year of offering an adapted service.
The charity, Epping Forest & Harlow Community Transport (EHCT), helps local people who are unable to use conventional public transport, including the elderly, those who are disabled or people who are rurally isolated.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic their fleet of 18 mini-buses made around 8,000 door-to-door service journeys each month, but they had to adapt their offering in March 2020 when the country went into lockdown.
Angela Canham, manager of EHCT, said: “Although we were unable to operate as usual, we knew that our clients still needed our support.
“We applied for a grant from Essex Community Foundation and were awarded £13,175 from their Essex Coronavirus Response and Recovery Programme, which meant we could buy the equipment needed for some of our team to work from home.
“They made daily calls to our housebound passengers to provide them with some reassurance that they weren’t alone and help prevent them from feeling isolated.
“We also made trips to St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping and worked with NHS Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow to deliver medications to patients who had gone home after being treated for Coronavirus or those with serious underlying heath conditions who needed to self-isolate.
“The funding we received also meant that we could add safety screens in our mini-buses for when restrictions eased.
“Like many charities, our income and donations reduced, but the need for our services grew. We are so grateful to ECF and their fundholders who decided to support us. It helped us get through a very challenging time and kept us going.”
Andy Payne Worpole, Head of Programmes at Essex Community Foundation, said: “Community transport services like EHCT provide a lifeline to people who are elderly or disabled, especially those who live in rural communities where there is a limited or no bus service at all.
“Knowing they can attend an appointment, meet friends or simply do some shopping, is so important as it helps keep them connected to their community and reduces feelings of isolation.”
EHCT are recruiting for new volunteers to help meet renewed demand for their services. To discuss the available positions, please call 01992 579556 or e-mail: email@example.com.
For more information about ECF and how you can apply for funding, click here or call our friendly grants team on 01245 356018.
To support local charities and community organisations, please donate to our Acorn Fund Challenge here. We are currently matching all gifts on a 2 to 1 basis.