Readibus awarded for its service during the Covid pandemic

Readibus award Woodley Town Council

Woodley Town Council is delighted that ReadiBus has won an award for pandemic service provision

ReadiBus is judged at the CT Awards to have been the best community transport service in England (and a runner-up in the entire UK) for its service provision during the pandemic.

The CT Awards in November 2021 named ReadiBus as the best community transport service in England – and a runner-up for the whole of the UK – for its service provision during the pandemic. The award was in the headline category of ‘Community Transport Provider of the Year’ and the ceremony highlighted the service provided during the last 21 months by community transport organisations throughout the length and breadth of the country.

The ReadiBus service in Woodley is funded by Woodley Town Council and Wokingham Borough Council. ReadiBus General Manager, Peter Absolon, commented: “Our grateful thanks to Woodley Town Council and Wokingham Borough Council and our other funders for the amazing support that has enabled us to keep the service available for vulnerable residents in Woodley during the pandemic.”

Woodley Town Council Leader, Cllr Keith Baker, is thrilled that ReadiBus has won the award and is very proud that the Council continues to support this vital service. 

“It is with great pride that I speak on behalf of the Council congratulating ReadiBus on winning an award acknowledging the very important service that it provides, which has been in even greater demand during the Covid 19 pandemic. The staff and volunteers have gone above and beyond in helping the elderly, disabled and clinically or extremely vulnerable people of Woodley to make essential journeys safely during the pandemic, such as for attending GP and hospital appointments, food shopping and respite. Thank you for supporting the residents of Woodley.”

Bill Freeman, Chief Executive of the Community Transport Association, which held the CT Awards, offered his “huge congratulations for the incredible work over the last year and a half”, adding, “our judges were impressed”.

Helping those most in need

Throughout the pandemic, the ReadiBus service has provided a safe means for elderly, disabled and clinically extremely vulnerable people to make essential journeys, whether this has been for food shopping, medical appointments, respite or any other reason; and ReadiBus worked side by side with the South Central Ambulance Service to enable local people to safely get to non-Covid-related hospital appointments, such as for cancer treatment and dialysis, helping people when they were most in need. 

“I am delighted that our team have received this recognition at the CT Awards”, added ReadiBus General Manager, Peter Absolon. “There are hundreds and hundreds of community transport service providers in the four nations of the UK, all doing wonderful work, and for the ReadiBus team to be recognised in this way for service provided during such a challenging time as this pandemic is quite something. ReadiBus staff showed great commitment to keep the service available and to ensure that it was safe, especially during the first lockdown. People needed a safe means of getting out, whether that was to get food, to attend a medical or hospital appointment, for respite, whatever the reason. I am so proud of what we did and what we achieved together.”

Thanks from passengers

Those who relied upon the ReadiBus during the lockdowns were also very grateful. For example, Mrs Markham from Woodley commented during the first lockdown back in May 2020: “I know I’m safe travelling with you”.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, Steve McManus, wrote in a letter to ReadiBus at the end of the first lockdown (June 2020) that ReadiBus’ support “has been truly outstanding’ and that the service ‘has been a life-line for many”.

In total, over 60,000 safe essential journeys have been made on ReadiBus across the whole operation since the start of the first lockdown, including over 2,000 journeys during that first lockdown in 2020.

Peter Absolon, further added: “In the first lockdown, journeys had to be provided one at a time, for social distancing, with a deep clean after every journey in order to keep the travelling environment safe. It was difficult to source enough PPE at the outset but the ambulance service were great and helped us with that and we always had just enough for what we needed each day. We were very strict in our procedures – our team were determined to keep the virus out and to keep safe both ourselves and everyone who needed to travel. Some staff teams rotated to get breathers but the service itself remained available every day. It was exhausting – but it was what was needed.”

As well as giving people the means and the confidence to make the essential journeys that they needed to make, the ReadiBus team also made hundreds of calls to people who were on their own who were not making journeys, to check they were OK. The comments that the team received from those contacted included, for example, “It’s so nice to talk to someone rather than myself”.

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