PRESS RELEASE MAY 2023 – OUR BUS BARTONS:
A West Oxfordshire Community Transport provider run by villagers took local Ukrainian Refugees on day-trips in April – and calls for the Government to focus on ‘forgotten’ rural communities.
OurBus Bartons was set up in 2016 after the village of Middle Barton saw its Public Transport cut. Run entirely by volunteers, it still the only operation of its kind in Oxfordshire.
Ken Caldwell, Chair of the Management Team, said “We know that asylum seekers receive very little support after their arrival, so we wanted to help. We applied for funds from Community First Oxfordshire to support Ukrainian Refugees. We reached out to Asylum welcome and offered our services. Pretty soon we had potential trips to Windsor Castle and Cotswold Wildlife Park organised. Then it was up to our volunteers to make them happen.”
One of their volunteers, Andy Barry offered to take both trips. He explains: “They are both places I went to with my children so knew them well, especially the Windsor trip. It was so good to enable these families who have been through so much to get together in a safe place.”
Tamara Kurzova, Liaison Officer with Asylum-Welcome, said: “It’s so wonderful and heart-warming how your Volunteers support Ukrainians and their wellbeing, they had a great time and are looking forward to more day-trips!”
Why does he volunteer with OurBus Bartons? Andy explains: “I have some time on my hands and it is very rewarding in a lot of ways. From taking passengers and their shopping to their front-doors or just chatting to someone who may not speak to many people, driving the bus makes me feel good, I’d recommend it!”
Richard C Brown MBE, Chair of Trustees of OurBus Bartons added: “It is great we are working with Refugees, but it is only part of a bigger puicture. We started as a bus company in 2016 as a response to cuts, but we are increasingly alarmed by the unmet needs our community has. Our wonderful volunteers do this work because they believe in helping others. We always need more of them, but we are fire-fighting. We feel forgotten about. Rural communities like ours need urgent support from the Government.”
(Funding was made available by Oxfordshire County Council)