A community organisation’s commitment has been recognised when it took out the top spot for a state-wide award.
Active Care Network, which is based out of Kingswood, won the Community Transport Provider of the Year at a recent ceremony in Kiama.
The team of 87 staff and volunteers provide transport, home and garden maintenance and repair and community connection to almost 4000 people in the Penrith, Blue Mountains, and Blacktown Local Government Areas.
With 10 nominees and a thorough judging criteria, Active Care Network CEO Ben Jackson told the Weekender he was surprised about the win.
“Community Transport Organisation is the peak body for community transport providers in NSW and this was the first annual conference and awards in two years because of COVID so everyone was in on the action,” Mr Jackson said.
“It was genuinely a shock because there were some big providers in the mix, but it is an acknowledgment of the extra mile all our staff and volunteers go to when delivering our services, and keeping our clients connected.”
Innovation was a focus for the criteria, which the team engaged with more during lockdowns.
“When we weren’t allowed to drive people to the places they needed to go we took our spare drivers and provided as much service as we safely could for our clients in their homes,” he said.
“Our driving team turned to welfare. They called people, became part time gardeners and supported the community in lots of different ways we wouldn’t have done because we would have been busy driving.”
The newly developed Home Support Services commercial home and garden maintenance and repair arm enables them to channel 100 per cent of the profits from this business back into community connection programs that support older, marginalised and vulnerable people.
Active Care Network also got to provide services for younger clients than it usually does as a part of its adaptive business model.
“There was a school that wasn’t digitally delivering work, so they were sending hardcopy papers to students using couriers, so we decided to help,” he said.
“We know how to schedule trips efficiently so 60 to 70 kids got their weekly education through our buses which was really heart-warming stuff.”
With the team working to help its clients achieve independence and wellbeing, Mr Jackson said the award is dedicated to many people involved with the local organisation.
“We are in the process of organising a road trip for the award because it isn’t just for the people in head office,” he said.
“This award is for all our drivers, the people in the different depots, the clients that we love and strive for and our partners in service.”
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers Local, State and Federal politics for the Weekender, as well as crime and general news.