Oxford City Council has awarded a £40,000 grant to Aspire, ensuring that its community transport service for 149 elderly passengers in Oxford will be maintained.
The vital service provides a five-day-a-week, 17-seater specialist bus service, staffed by a full-time driver and passenger assistant.
The community transport service supports elderly and immobile residents to maintain their independence through shopping trips, attending lunch clubs and other social events.
In a recent survey carried out by Aspire, elderly residents described the bus as a “lifeline”, with 58 per cent of passengers saying that they would not leave their home without the service.
Aspire Oxford, an employment charity and social enterprise, took over the running of the service from Oxfordshire County Council in 2015 when funding was reduced. The County Council continues to part-fund the service.
Oxford City Council has provided the £40,000 grant as one-off funding to allow Aspire to continue running the service in 2017, and give the charity time to move to a self-funding model next year.
The funding uses up the last of Oxford City Council’s £50,000 community transport reserve, which was set up following funding reductions to bus subsidies in Oxford.
Funding of £10,000 was previously given to Cutteslowe Community Association to provide the Cutteslowe Comet, which helps elderly residents in North Oxford with food shopping trips and hospital visits.
Paul Roberts, Chief Operating Officer at Aspire, said: “Aspire Oxford is delighted to be able to continue this vital service, thanks to the £40,000 grant from Oxford City Council.
“Our Community Transport bus does an incredible job reducing isolation and loneliness; the service also relieves pressure on health and social care services and reassures family members that their elderly relatives are able to enjoy independent lives.
“As 92% of our passengers are living alone, we know how important this service is to them. We look forward to another successful year of transforming lives.”
Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Executive Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, said: “This one-off grant will enable Aspire to run this vital community link while they identify new funding streams. It’s about giving space for Aspire to develop a sustainable model for the future.”