After National Express Accessible Transport has been awarded the ‘Covid-19 Stronger Together’ award, Quadrant Transport explores the importance of providing vital services to vulnerable people and people in need.
At last night’s Living Wage Champion Awards, National Express Accessible Transport (NEAT) was recognised for its leadership in supporting local communities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has affected everybody in the whole world and has exposed many underlying issues surrounding poverty and vulnerability, especially in the UK.
When schools closed in March 2020, NEAT worked quickly with Birmingham City Council to switch services that would normally deliver SEN home to school transport to instead deliver thousands of food parcels to families and individuals who were shielding.
Over the course of just a few months, 45,000 food parcels were delivered to some of Birmingham’s most vulnerable families, as well as learning packs for children who were unable to get online.
Anyone can experience poverty at any time
One thing the pandemic highlighted above all is that poverty can creep into people’s lives at any point in time. Millions of people were placed on furlough, losing 20% of their normal earnings, and many people lost their jobs altogether.
NEAT wanted to use this as an opportunity to show people that we are stronger together and community spirit can help people through difficult times.
Vinay Parmar, Managing Director of NEAT said: “This really does show that we are stronger together, and I think that is particularly true over this past year or so. By looking after each other and working closely with our partners we’ve been able to provide some amazing support in our communities and I’m incredibly proud of everybody involved.”
This really does show that we are stronger together, and I think that is particularly true over this past year or so
Living Wage Foundation recognised these efforts and handed them the ‘Covid-19 Stronger Together’ award last night.
“National Express Accessible Transport’s work over the last year embodies the core values of the Living Wage movement, and I congratulate them on their deserved award,” explained Laura Gardiner, Director of Living Wage Foundation.
Frontline workers are given a helping hand
NEAT also operates the local Ring and Ride service, used by West Midlands residents who are unable to use mainstream public transport due to mobility or social isolation issues. But with many customers staying at home they saw an opportunity to provide a lifeline for the frontline.
I have to say the biggest part of the free shuttle service was the incredible National Express Accessible Transport drivers
Ruth, who works for the NHS explained: “I have to say the biggest part of the free shuttle service was the incredible National Express Accessible Transport drivers. They got to know us and it was almost like they could tell if we’d had a bad day because they tried to cheer us up on the way to the station. Some even sang to me!”
Working alongside Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) they repurposed the fleet to run free NHS staff shuttles between key transport hubs and hospitals across the region. Over 40,000 trips were completed and made a real difference to our wonderful NHS heroes.