The Rural Access to Services Partnership (previously Nottinghamshire Rural Transport Partnership) was originally funded by the Countryside Agency, and was responsible for the development of projects of lasting benefit to rural communities.
This is a partnership project between Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire (RCAN), Nottinghamshire County Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Greater Nottingham Partnership and other voluntary and statutory bodies. Following the changes to the Countryside Agency, RASP has gone through some change. The main focus of the RASP Officer at RCAN is to work strategically with a range of partners and organisations to improve the provision of rural transport.
They have an important role to play by providing the link between local communities through the Rural Community Action network, and local authorities.
The Partnership approach is central, and we aim to signpost communities to initiatives developed by partners, such as the County Council Smarter Choices, Travel Planning, Car Sharing developments; RideWise and developments within Greater Nottingham Transport Partnership; to avoid duplication and maximise benefit to communities and parishes. Working with parishes and rural communities on local transport solutions remains central to our objectives.
Currently funded under a service level agreement with Nottinghamshire County Council, for two days a week, the area of work which the RASP Officer is focussing on is in the support of community initiatives, working with community transport providers, to promote good practice and increase training opportunities for volunteers. This will deliver two things: it will ensure that skills existing in communities are used to the full, and attract new, younger volunteers by offering skills and training for personal development and inclusion in the job market.
Nottinghamshire County Council is now committed to achieving MiDAS Trained status for all its volunteers, whether as a Car Scheme Driver, Passenger Assistant or Minibus Driver by April 2014
Through two new funding streams, the MiDAS Development Fund and the CT Growth Fund, (which have been available as a direct result of Rural Sustainable Community Transport Fund monies given by the DfT) grants have been made available for supporting training and a range of other work.. These have offered schemes opportunities to develop the skills of their volunteers and to explore issues of project development and Quality Standards, promoting the Community Transport Association’s new Quality Mark which has been awarded Charities Commission approval which will ensure that schemes are running as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The RASP Officer provides ongoing support for schemes during project’s progress and monitors the outputs and outcomes as they arise.
One new initiative is the introduction of Car Scheme Plus, where wheelchair accessible vehicles have been added into schemes which will provide safe affordable travel for wheelchair users and provide volunteer driving opportunities for people who may not have their own vehicle.
THE RASP Officer also edits a newsletter ’Mobility Matters’ and attends meetings of a range of organisations which have mobility as a key issue.
The Rural Access to Services Partnership Officer (RASPO) also works closely with the Nottinghamshire Wheels to Work project, and will work closely with that programme to extend access to employment and training, and develop individuals' confidence to meet their own future transport needs.