This week Hazel (OCTO manager) and Lorraine (ODF coordinator) travelled down south to Edinburgh for the Community Transport Association’s Scottish conference.
Community Transport Association is a national charity representing and supporting community transport providers across the UK. They work to champion accessible transport and connect groups who design inclusive solutions to enable them to share ideas and develop. The CTA also provides training and guidance including MiDAS which OCTO and ODF carry out for our drivers. Their work demonstrates the many benefits of accessible transport for the mental and physical health of communities.
The aim of the conference was to “celebrate the enormous contribution of community transport providers in Scotland, look at some of the key issues affecting the sector today, and gather together as colleagues from across the country to meet, network and to share ideas and experiences.”
Our interest in the conference stemmed from our desire to reacquaint ourselves with their current practices and represent OCTO and ODF. The conference provides an opportunity to gain an insight into relevant policies and available resources to better our services for the community.
Over a packed two days we learned a lot; from how to showcase the value of your work to potential funders (increasingly important in our current austerity constrained society) to the importance of community transport to reducing carbon emissions.
As Hazel states, “Overall, it was a good conference with varied topics. It gave me a lot of assurances that we are doing a lot of things right. The introduction of OCTO in 2008 showed the forward thinking of the Orkney Disability Forum Board and that many community transport organisations are only now modifying how they operate to be a more of a business model. Regrettably many of the topics were focussed on the central belt and higher density communities but there was still much to be learnt and experiences share. We have put names to faces and made connections that will surely benefit both Orkney Disability Forum and OCTO in future developments.”