Easilink Community Transport are delighted to welcome a new fully accessible 9-seater minibus to its fleet.
The need for the new minibus was identified because of the COVID-19 pandemic and supported by an uplift grant on their current 5-year funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. The minibus will help Easilink ensure they can navigate and safely deliver on the Rural Links to Health and Wellbeing project over the next few years.
The Rural Links to Health and Wellbeing project is a 5-year project, established in August 2019, enabling Easilink to provide a door-to-door transport service to people without access to public transport or their own private vehicle to hospital and health related appointments and activities across the Western Trust area.
Speaking about the project, Kerrie Grugan, Project Coordinator said “The Rural Links to Health and Wellbeing Project enables previously unavailable travel options for our service users. It addresses the issue of access to hospital and health related appointments for people living in Omagh, Strabane and rural Derry/Londonderry.
We are delighted to have received this additional funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to purchase the new minibus. With the support of the minibus and our volunteer car scheme, we will be able to deliver the Rural Links project effectively to help ensure health appointments are not missed because of transport issues.
There is a small fee for the service, but the fares are heavily subsidised thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund made possible thanks to National Lottery players. Without this funding the project would be impossible to deliver.”
Claire Russell, Chief Executive of Easilink Community Transport said “We have been seeing an increase in the number of vulnerable passengers needing to use a wheelchair to avoid direct personal contact with our drivers. Through our own risk assessments and advice from the Community Transport Association UK, it now means clients who need physical support and/or guidance (e.g., clients who are blind or visually impaired, or clients who are frail and with limited mobility) will need to use a wheelchair to safely access our services. These additional clients using wheelchairs are not able to be transported by our volunteer car scheme drivers; therefore, the uplift grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to purchase this new minibus is very much welcomed. It will go a long way in helping to ensure our local people can access hospital and health appointments in the Western Trust area.”
Kate Beggs, Northern Ireland Director of The National Lottery Community Fund said: “We’re delighted to support this project which is providing essential transport for people to make it easier for them to access vital health services.
“National Lottery players raise around £36 million every week across the UK for good causes like this, and they can be proud to know that it is making such a difference to people in Northern Ireland.”
For further information on the Rural Links to Health and Wellbeing Project, contact your nearest Easilink office.