In June 2017, Arun Coordinated Community Transport (ACCT) merged with Bognor-based Sammy Community Transport but, about a year later, was liquidated, leaving dozens of vulnerable and elderly people stranded.
Since the closure, volunteers have been working tirelessly to provide a replacement, and with the help of Chichester-based business Southern Mobility, the new Arun Community Transport (ACT) has been formed.
ACT’s chairman and sales and marketing manager of Southern Mobility Patrick Cooper said he had to step in when he heard what happened.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
“I thought, ‘this is not good, this should not have happened’. So I stuck my head above the parapet and set up a fundraiser.”
The community responded and enough money was raised to set up the Littlehampton-based charity, operating across Arun and taking on many of the old clients and drivers.
Patrick said ACT now has about 15 volunteer drivers serving more than 100 clients – a number he said shows the extent of the crisis.
“ACT is absolutely critical,” he said.
“What really shocked me when it first happened was people were stranded and had no idea why.
“They are very quiet voices, they don’t have access to social media, so as a group there was silence. People were saying ‘what am I going to do? How am I going to get around’?.”
He also paid tribute to Peter Austin, the manager of ACCT who had been instrumental in setting up the new ACT service while suffering from liver cancer.
Peter sadly passed away on Tuesday morning (November 13).
Clients and drivers wanting to get involved can contact ACT on 01903 792110.