On Wednesday 19th April, Carers in Bedfordshire co-hosted with Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) the first of four ‘new’ Carers Partnership meetings to be held per year.
The meetings are for carers and professionals to listen to each other and work together to find solutions to issues that affect carers lives.
This was the first of the new style quarterly meetings to be held in different venues in Central Bedfordshire. In keeping with other Partnership Boards meetings will be ‘themed’ in order to gain a thorough understanding of the issues facing carers.
The first meeting was about transport. 14 carers fed in their experiences, and 22 professionals from 10 different organisations attended. Presentations and constructive discussions were had on:
- public transport across the county
- eligibility and access to school transport
- transport challenges facing carers of East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) service users following the relocation of some services
- availability of community transport, especially British Rural Community Charity’s (BRCC) Good Neighbour schemes
Carers raised the need for more rest points at bus stops, wider availability of concessionary bus passes, and for better flexibility of school transport for children with additional needs. The professionals told us they found it really useful to find out about carers’ experiences, and promised ongoing working together. More details of the meeting and next steps can be found on our website.
Dial a Ride - Dial A Ride is a combination of a bus /taxi service, mainly for people who find it difficult or impossible to use a traditional transport service. Eligible people pay an annual subscription and then a subsidised fare per journey.
Central Bedfordshire - Jemma ran through the main policy points which can be found on the Council’s website http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/school/transport/free.aspx Further information on particular issues may be requested via an involved health professional or from the school attended.
East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) - Gail Dearing gave a lively and thought provoking presentation and spoke about the many transport challenges faced by carers. For example carers visiting the people they care for in hospitals out of their area. The centralisation of hospital care has meant greater travelling distances in order to visit friends/family members. Local services are often not available for people with mental illness, a personality or eating disorder. This applies to maternity care too as there are few local mother and baby units. Luton and Dunstable Hospital is difficult to reach for people who don’t have access to a car.
Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity - Justine Hunt gave a presentation on Good Neighbours’ Schemes. A list of all the local schemes available was tabled. The presentation was well received. The meeting was impressed with the type and amount of help available. One carer told us about the Stotfold Good Neighbour group which has 30+ volunteers. Of 850 jobs that had come in 640 were transport related demonstrating that transport is a huge issue for people in general and carers in particular.
Transport resources for carers in Central Bedfordshire:
School transport: centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/school/transport/free.aspx
Companion pass scheme: centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/transport/bus-pass/disabled.aspx
BRCC’s Good Neighbour Schemes: http://bedsrcc.org.uk/good-neighbour-scheme/