BBC Lifeline visits CTA in Northern Ireland

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Update: CTA’s slot on Lifeline will air in Northern Ireland on Sunday 11th (5:05pm) and Monday 12th October (11:05pm) on BBC One and Wednesday 14th (1:00pm) on BBC 2. 

For those of us who work in the world of community transport, we know what a lifeline it is for so many people all across the UK. Working as the CTA’s Director for Northern Ireland, I’ve seen first-hand the wide range of people whose day-to-day lives are immeasurably improved by our members and the services that they provide.

Too often, though, knowledge of community transport is confined to those that use the services and doesn’t extend to the general public. That’s why we were so thrilled to get a visit from Tim McGarry and the team at BBC Northern Ireland this week; they came to take a look at the work done by some of our members and to talk to some of the passengers that they help.

Well known to many across Northern Ireland, Tim is a prolific comedian, satirist and presenter and took the wheel of one of our minibuses to explore the role that community transport plays in the lives of residents across the country. Passengers and volunteer drivers were on hand to explain to Tim and the viewers at home why CT services are so important.

Two of our members, Lagan Valley Rural Transport and Out and About, provided vehicles and drivers for filming. Like many of our members working with those facing social isolation and exclusion, they strive day in and day out to ensure that individuals are empowered to participate in their communities regardless of their circumstances.

It’s also important for us at the CTA to advocate for the people that use our services: bringing their stories to the forefront and explaining their needs and our responsibility as a community to meet them.  Janet Grey, for example, is a user of community transport and a world champion water-skier who has not only competed in the Paralympic Games (as if that wasn’t impressive enough) but also had the honour to light the Belfast 2012 Paralympic cauldron as the torch journeyed around the UK. Janet, along with those from many other walks of life, will be featured on the programme, demonstrating who community transport helps and why. Ann Collins, former CEO of Shopmobility Belfast and the Shopmobility NI Federation, explained why appropriate transport is so important for people like her who use a wheelchair and how an accessible vehicle opens up a world of possibilities by enabling rather than segregating people with disabilities.

Patricia Laverty, a volunteer car driver, confirmed how important volunteering is within communities and how much volunteers themselves benefit from providing the service.

The determination to make a difference in their community is inherent across the entire community transport sector and is shared by paid staff and volunteers alike. With the help of our colleagues within these organisations we’re hoping that our appearance on Lifeline brings the work that they do to a wider audience and continues to extol the virtues of community transport.

For those in Northern Ireland, the programme will air on Sunday 16th October and Monday 17th October on BBC One and Wednesday 19th on BBC Two. Times are not yet confirmed but keep a look out around 4pm on the 16th, 11pm on the 17th and 1pm on the 19th. For those who live outside Northern Ireland, I’m sure with the wonders of iPlayer we’ll be able to bring it to you all the same.

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