The aim of Manor Community Transport is to provide a reliable, safe and affordable minibus transport service to help improve the quality of life for the people of this community, the majority of whom are affected by poverty and mobility issues, have no other means of transport available to them and without this service would be trapped within their own homes. The specialist transport service we provide enables those most at risk of isolation to attend exercise groups, day centres, lunch clubs, church groups and other events, helping them to live a vibrant, happier and healthier old age enabling them to stay active for longer. Manor Community Transport is a key enabler for many of the User Groups who use our service; they would be unable to operate without our transport provision.
Transport is integral to our lives whatever the vehicle we are in constant movement and the nature of this movement constitutes our lives. Community Transport offers so much more than just transporting people door to door the added value is comprised of many different themes, from the accessibility and responsiveness of the service to enable greater independence, social interaction and to reduce isolation of our service users, many of whom would rarely leave the house without this provision and to access basic services.
The role of our Drivers and Passenger Assistants are key to this added value and the relationship with passengers is of mutual benefit. Consequently passengers travelling together provide the impetus for forming friendships improving self-esteem.
These Drivers and Passenger Assistants go the extra mile to accommodate our passengers and many using the skills honed through their positions on to gainful employment. Our passengers trust these volunteers, this level of trust means that carers are happy to let passengers travel alone, providing themselves with much needed respite, improving the carer – patient relationship.
Transport and Health are inextricably linked i.e. going to Lunch Clubs has a beneficial effect on health and not only provides members with a nutritious meal, taking meals in the company of others thereby providing companionship. The opportunity to leave the house eases aches and pains and reduces depression thereby taking pressure off GPs.
Audience and Beneficiaries:
It was the 'need' for our service in this very deprived community which prompted the inception of MCT. Currently we reach our target audience by word of mouth.
We support 15 groups weekly. In the year up to the 31st March 2019 we supported 15 groups per week (plus 6 others less frequently) and carried 9,484 passengers; at this rate by the end of March 2020 we may carry in excess of 10,000 people. These figures are continuing to rise and placing a heavy burden on our resources.
We are now running to capacity, however, no group is ever turned away - due to the generosity of our volunteer drivers and passenger assistants who regularly ‘Go the extra Mile’ and endeavor to fit in jobs between jobs so as not to let these elderly people down or disappoint them as we are aware that without our transport provision these people would not leave the house and would remain in isolation and inactive.
Our passengers in the main are older people, many with mobility issues; conversely we have transported children for Vikinglea Nursey supported with Nursery Staff. Groups we support include Arbourthorne Strength and Stamina and Arbourthorne Antics which are gentle exercise classes for the over 50’s which comprises chair aerobics and on other days, crafts. And Darnall Dementia Group who hold Day Care Centre's 3 times a week their activities incorporate dancing to ‘old’ favorites
Other Organisations that use our services are Lunch Clubs, Salvation Army, Lifestyle House, Vikinglea Nursery and a Men’s Group who go for Pub Lunches and to the Greyhounds.
The Manor & Castle Ward is one of the 28 electoral wards in the City of Sheffield. The population of this ward is 21,223 at the 2011 census.
The Manor Estate is a large low rise housing estate in eastern Sheffield, divided up into Manor Park, Upper & Lower Manor and Manor Top.
The Manor Estate is one of the most deprived areas of Sheffield, an area of approximately 4,000 homes built in the 1930’s to alleviate inner city crowding, however, work places were not included in the scheme and unemployment hit the area hard, and continues to do so, thus causing further crime related problems; theft vandalism, drugs and drug related problems to name a few. On IMD ratings it numbers amongst the 10% most deprived areas in England.
Challenges to the area include:
Low levels of aspiration and lack of confidence
Unemployment and the distance local people are from accessing economic opportunities
Issues for people making the leap from benefit dependency to employment or setting up in business
Educational attainment and training and qualifications for work
Lack of parenting skills.
Despite the physical improvements to the area in Community Development which have taken place, many of the issues are deeply rooted and will take years to overcome. The challenge to the city is reaching the most vulnerable/isolated people.
Borne out of these dire circumstances strengths are in organisations such as MCT in addition to further Community organisations which are assets and strengths to the area.
Initially at the inception of Manor Community Transport, we operated in the Manor Estate and surrounding areas of Arbourthorne and Darnall. This has subsequently expanded into : Frecheville, Birley, Gleadless, Jordanthorpe, Woodseats, Low Edges, Richmond, Handsworth, Stradbrooke, Wybourn, Norfolk Park, Meersbrook, Intake, Heeley, Norton, Beauchief, Chancet Wood, Manor Park, Woodthorpe, Woodhouse and Sheffield City Centre. Recently we have been carrying passengers from a group at Broomhill and Foxhill which are at the other side of the City. Furthermore we take groups as far afield as Loxley Valley, High Green, Lodge Moor, Northern College Barnsley, Hillsborough, Crystal Peaks, Coal Aston, Barlborough and Bakewell.
The immediate impact of the project will be to be able to expand our customer base, thereby benefiting the older and disabled members of our community to be free from isolation and remain active in society, which is their fundamental human right.
In addition to the above passenger figure beneficiaries, we presently have 18 volunteers engaged in our project and 1 more presently going through the recruitment process. Over the years our volunteers have gone on to find gainful employment resulting in the skills, experience, commitment and dedication shown through volunteering.
More importantly, however, without the ‘strengths’ of our volunteers who work tirelessly, with commitment and dedication our organisation would fail.
Our volunteers and mini buses are vital to our services, as our main objective is to sustain a vibrant, healthy stronger community thereby benefiting the older and disabled members of our community to be free from isolation and remain active in society. The minibuses allow us to do this and maintain our sustainability as without the minibuses there would be no Manor Community Transport which would affect approximately 10,000 passengers, in addition to our volunteers, many of whom have gone on to find gainful employment through experience gained from our project.
These 3 little minibuses provide enormous benefits to so many people.
Furthermore our service provides a ‘knock on’ effect as our User Groups would also find it difficult to operate without our service.
Sheila Manclark - Darnall Dementia Group states "People coming to our group benefit from having a regular driver and the same bus for each journey, volunteers are friendly and helpful. The service is flexible and reliable, staff are very approachable and eager to help in any way they can. Group travel is important to us as regular passengers meet on the bus, and the journey to the day centre is an important part of their day. Day centre attenders arrive together, which minimises disruption to our routine, which suits the people with dementia who attend.
Because MCT are a small local organisation lines of communication are more efficient, and we get to know all staff and drivers which help if we need to change or discuss any aspect of the service."
The Rev Steve Chapman – Sheffield Manor Parish agrees “We have a lunch club based in Temple Park Community and Church Centre (formerly William Temple) on Harborough Avenue. The club caters for people over the age of 65 while many of our members are aged 80+. Each Tuesday Manor Community Transport provides us with two mini buses, two volunteer drivers and two escorts. The buses pick up around 15 people who would not otherwise be able to make it to the Lunch Club. By being able to attend, they find companionship, fun and a hot meal. For some of them it is their only outing of the week. Manor Community Transport is important to us as it is helping reduce isolation in the older adults who attend. Worth mentioning is the special care offered to our clients by the volunteers who serve Manor Community Transport with such commitment.
In addition Manor Community Transport brings people to two of our churches in (Sheffield Manor Parish) on a Sunday and offer the same level of professional service to people who would otherwise miss Church and the spiritual lift it gives them.”
Diana Booth from the Arbourthorne Antics Group states “Without the aid of the Transport for the less abled members we would not be able to continue.”
Janet Griffin from Sheffield Live at Home (North) agrees “We certainly could not operate our groups without the provision of transport which enables our members to leave their homes and meet and make new friends!”
Philip Staton from Mosborough History Meeting Group says “As Chairman of a group that uses MCT mini buses, we are all too aware of how much of a community asset they are.
MCT provide a facility that enables the elderly, more house bound, and less mobile groups avoid being socially isolated or excluded, all of this increasing their well-being."
A typical week in MCT would be initially the driver would come to the office to collect the mini bus keys, we are very fortunate that St Theresa’s School, Prince of Wales Road, allows us to keep the vehicles on their secure premises. The driver and passenger assistant then go to collect people from their home for whichever group they are to attend. Whilst the driver remains on the bus with the passengers, unless needed, the passenger assistant collects the person from their door and escorts them to the bus.
Our User Groups contact us on a daily basis to let us know which passengers to pick up and those not attending.
We endeavor to keep the same drivers and passenger assistants on the same run, as not to ‘confuse’ our passengers which make them feel secure. More importantly they have ‘bonded’ with our volunteers and have a laugh and a joke with them. Our passengers trust these volunteers, this level of trust means that carers are happy to let passengers travel alone, providing themselves with much needed respite, improving the carer – patient relationship.
Furthermore, our volunteers have become involved with the User Group’s for example one driver played a part in their Christmas Panto’s. Sadly, if a passenger passes away it hits our volunteers hard and they attend these people’s funerals with the remainder of the User Group. It’s as they become ‘family’.
A Volunteers Story “Starting as a Volunteer for Manor Community Transport has really helped me get back on my feet after 2 years of living hell. Having suffered mentally through a period of domestic violence and emotional abuse I started to feel worthless and becoming a Volunteer here has really had a positive impact on my life and gave me a new purpose – to help the elderly passengers get out and about in their local community.
We take groups of vulnerable people to local events in the area and it makes me feel valued that we provide such a good, reliable and entertaining service to people who otherwise would just be stuck at home with nothing else to do.
Many of the passengers look forward to seeing us every week as it is their only outing and for some we are even the only people they socialise with. We try to go over and above to make their experience with us enjoyable, comfortable and fun.
Without the Service of Manor Community Transport many of our passengers would not be able to leave their homes at all during the week. Their relatives are usually busy with their immediate families and so it is the older, more vulnerable generation that are usually forgotten.
Many of our passengers look forward to seeing the happy, smiling faces of our drivers / assistants and can’t wait to get out and about with like-minded individuals who are in similar situations. They regularly make good friends with each other and with the Community Transport Volunteers.
We really do become a great asset to their everyday lives.” K Syrat.
Other Volunteers have experienced periods of depression which has disappeared due to volunteering duties which has given them a sense of purpose at the same time making them feel valued.
The remainder of our Volunteer Drivers and Passenger Assistants agree that our customers look forward to being picked up and taken out for the day and display a happy and positive demeanor when the Drivers arrive.
On Tuesday morning’s the drivers and passenger assistants come into the office, those who are working come in between runs, and have a cuppa in order to discuss any issues or just to chat for an hour.
MCT is 100% customer focused within the local community. Everyone within our organisation, both paid employees and volunteer’s alike, local residents of the community, are responsible in shaping and for the deliverance of the project. From the fundraising, the training and development, coordinating, planning and promotion to the social support, for example: befriending.
Everyone within our organisation, both paid employees and volunteers alike will be responsible for the deliverance of the project from the funding acquisition, the training and development, co-coordinating, planning and promotion to the social support .
Our user groups, local residents, have representatives on our Management Committee, which enables us to have regular feedback on the service we provide and on our volunteers. By having these regular meetings, we are able to tailor our services to meet and even exceed our customers’ needs and expectations. This is a boon to providing valuable input for decision making within the organisation and thereby shaping its development and deciding how it is run. Our Management Committee are all volunteers themselves.
The Management Committee will be responsible for the decision making and overall management
The Senior Driver is responsible for the transport provision and supervision of volunteers.
The General Manager is responsible for the day to day running of the organisation, service delivery, funding acquisition, training and development programmes.
The Passenger Assistants assist the driver and more importantly offer social support through befriending.
The result of this project will bring better health and well-being for older and disabled members of the community with more things to do and more places to go, a more connected, cohesive and proud community, with more skilled and confident residents in addition to a safer community.
These assumptions are based on the fact that the community now has the mobility and impetus to spread its wings, while at the same time providing much needed social interaction.
With regard to success. As we are the only organisation in the area providing this service, the above beneficiary figures and outcomes demonstrate our success so far. We are hoping to continue this success and indeed expand our service.
We have Trustee meetings every 2 months (more frequently if required) and attend monthly networking meetings with Manor Assembly, as by raising our profile within the community, increases our sustainability.
The User Groups were set up because of the ‘need’ to help these older people be active and free from isolation. As they have become older, they have been left more isolated and depressed as they felt worthless within the Community. Subsequently it was realised that the older volunteers who ran the User Groups could not transport the attendees to the venue’s and meeting places to meet other people in the same situation. It was recognised there was a need to get a third party involved. As taxis were not financially viable therefore, MCT was born to interact with these User Groups, to allow the User Groups to function, thereby providing the means to get everybody to that initial meeting and beyond.
So from the very first time MCT got people from A-B we were already on a learning curve and were therefore going to carry on and therefore more User Groups continue to ring us – recommended by word of mouth as we have catered to these User Groups for over thirty years it has been a constant learning curve.
Consequently, through continually learning and adapting we are able to exceed our passenger’s and User Groups expectations.
In order to acquire further community support for our project, we attend various other Community Meetings for example Manor Assembly Steering Group, where all the ‘Partnerships’ gather to raise awareness of our services to potential users, in other user led organisations, via these networking meetings. Providing a two-way communication, seeking ideas and sharing information regarding the local community. As a direct result of these networking meetings we have raised our profile within the local community and have been contacted by further groups, a childcare nursery, a Men’s Group and a local Scouts Group to use our services.
By attending these networking meetings we have acquired further User Groups, therefore expanding out network and increasing our income thereby helping to secure our sustainability.
Furthermore, these meetings gave us the introduction to the person who developed our website and manufactured the Drivers and Passenger Assistants I.D. badges.
These networking meetings also open up the possibility of attending fundraising events for example ‘Everyone’s Festival’.
At MCT we identify the fact that some other local transport organisations close down when they take public holidays and MCT recognise the need to carry on with the services (as isolation doesn’t recognise a ‘holiday’) – which we do by covering as and when required.
Communication is vital to encourage equality of opportunity for everyone within our local community to get engaged with MCT. In addition to the monthly meetings we hold and the Manor Assembly monthly meetings we attend with the other various local community groups. We have recently acquired funding to bring us into the 21st Century and to have a professional website developed. This will enable user groups, passengers, staff members and community groups to potentially reach a wider audience. Thereby, opening up the use of alternative social media i.e. Facebook.
In addition, having a website also enables us to show how much we have raised to date and give recognition to our current funders. It would also let funders know what we do with their money and how they are making a difference to people’s lives.
The Lunch Clubs are a great way for older people to stay independent, make new friends and try out new activities as the meal is just part of the experience; it is a social occasion as much as it is a nutritional one.
To summarise the aim of Manor Community Transport is to provide a service that is greater than simply transporting individuals. It provides benefits that extend beyond this as where much needed help is given to support getting in/out of the house, the Driver helps make the journey enjoyable and both Driver & Passenger Assistants are aware and trained to be responsive to issues that may arise and can identify early warning signs of any issues.
Using public transport is unsuitable for some older people due to their sensory, physical, and mental health needs. There is also an issue of public transport not always taking you close to where you live or involving in lots of changes that can be daunting and also physically demanding. Some people don’t have access to private transport for a range of reasons including they cannot drive (this may be due to health reasons), they do not have access to a car, family members are not able to support them as well as poverty since taxis can be expensive.
As a result, older people can miss out on opportunities and may not be able to make the best use of services that can support well-being. This can lead to a range of poor health and social outcomes, feelings of lost independence and control and social isolation.
Manor Community Transport supports NEF’s 5 Ways to Well-being; Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give, for people, communities and organisations. Being able to travel with other people who are attending a specific service or venue together, MCT gives opportunities for conversations and friendships to develop beyond the activity and people can find out about other activities that friends may be attending widening their interactions.