FACT: New era for Fenland transport provider as people, charity and community are at the heart of its plans
- Credit: Harry Rutter/ARCHANT
It is the start of a new era for FACT across Fenland - with a community hub to reduce isolation for the elderly, an increase in services and spotlight on charity work.
The transport provider has undergone a major shake up at its headquarters in recent months and a complete rebrand.
FACT - the Fenland Association for Community Transport - has left behind the past of its predecessors' and now focuses on community rather than commercial work.
Shiny rebranded buses offer day trips to the coast and offices now include a meeting room for hire and a community hub set to launch in January 2020.
There's been a shift to concentrating on the heart of the community - in tackling loneliness, isolation and becoming a listening ear for elderly people.
The new logo - a heart shaped jigsaw - echoes the sentiment of FACT working at one with the community.
Michelle Irvine, head of finance and funding, said: "The main thing about the rebranding is that we are focusing on the community work and that was what it was intended to be about from the beginning.
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"We are having a bigger focus on the dial-a-ride service so that people can get to where they need to be.
"We are holding befriending clubs to help reduce social isolation too.
"Elderly people can come together to talk, have a meal and go home feeling better.
"It's about making sure that people don't feel alone."
FACT has more than 2,000 members who use their services across three regions. And in October 24 new members joined.
There's been a distinct change in atmosphere at the base too since its rebrand.
"A lot of members chat to the drivers and say how much nicer it feels now," Michelle said.
"There is a happy vibe here that wasn't here before.
"People say that this service is so valuable and they don't know what they would do without it.
"We hope to increase the service and reach more people in rural areas that do not know it is available and continue to work with charities."
The community hub at FACT offices in Martin Avenue, March, is also intended to be a support network to the elderly from the New Year.
Nicola Christy, who has come to FACT after working in the care industry, is at the helm.
She said: "The hub is going to be a safe, welcoming environment where anyone can come along and ask for information and be pointed in the right direction.
"It may be the fact that they want to get a cooked meal delivered or fill in forms but don't know how to.
"We can offer tips that may help people live more independently.
"They can have a cup of tea and someone will be here to listen to them - sometimes that is all they want.
"We hear how some people say that the TV is their only friend because they are alone and family may have moved on or their partner passed away.
"It's the little things that we take for granted that can actually bring them the most happiness."
The hub will also feature computers, CDs of stars from the 50s and 60s and warm refreshments on hand to bring cheer to those who feel alone.
Anyone can attend to use the services and doesn't have to be a FACT member.
In the lead up to Christmas there will be a 'mince pie Monday' held on December 16 and another race night at March Town Cricket Club on November 30.
The Fenland Flag is also on display across the 38 FACT buses, and anyone who spots one out and about is encouraged to give the driver a wave and comment on the new Facebook page - 'FACT Community Transport'. Search 'Fenland Flag' on Facebook to find out more.
It is clear that the future that lies ahead is a different picture from the one at the centre of controversy in recent years.
"Just watch this space," Nicola added.
FOOTNOTE: A police inquiry into the former management of FACT continues. An update is expected shortly.