12 organisations across Oxfordshire have been granted a total of nearly £425,000 to improve community transport facilities.
The grants range from £700 to £135,000, and will be used to invest in new vehicles, expand existing initiatives, introduce new services, offer administrative support, and conduct surveys to identify potential passengers.
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport management, said: “Most of us take it for granted that we will be able to get to the places we need to.
“However, when people can’t drive or access public transport, they can be stranded.
“That’s why Oxfordshire’s active and diverse community transport sector is such a lifeline to so many people.
“From small volunteer car schemes to larger minibus schemes offering timetabled services, we are incredibly grateful to all those who work so hard to keep our residents mobile.
“We know these grants will make a big difference to all these organisations and help them to continue the fantastic work they are doing.”
Beneficiaries include West Oxfordshire Community Transport, Uffington, Baulking and Woolstone (UBW) Minibus and Daybreak Oxford among others.
Daybreak Oxford, has received the largest grant of £135,000.
This will be used to expand its 15-month old scheme that provides transport for people with dementia to and from day centres and the older population on shopping trips.
Lee Gray, chief executive of Daybreak Oxford, said, “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this funding.
“It means we can increase the number of days we can operate, the number of centres we can visit, and double the number of people we can serve.
“We take them door-to-door and it is a real lifeline for so many people.”
The Council’s grant will cover everything from permits to safety inspections as well as staff costs.
West Oxfordshire’s First & Last Mile was awarded a £40,000 grant to support its service expansion and administrative needs.
First & Last Mile CIC Director, Andy Swarbrick, said “We are very pleased to have been awarded a community transport grant.
“We feel it is in recognition of the widely applauded service we run in one of the most challenging rural areas of Oxfordshire since our inception in January 2022.
“The award will be used to establish not only a shoppers’ service but also put the whole business on a more professional footing.
“That said, a critical aspect of our philosophy is to engage locally, both in terms of volunteers and the support of the wider community.”