The Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, has met with members and users of the Community Transport Network Northern Ireland (CTNNI) to discuss the importance of community transport for older people.

CTNNI, which is made up of ten community transport partnerships, provides the rural 'Dial a Lift' service and the urban 'Disability Action Transport Scheme' and ensures accessible transport for those who have difficulty or are unable to access transport, many of which are older people. These services are at risk of being reduced as a result of budget cuts and it is essential that the provision is maintained due to the independence it offers many older people.

Following meeting with the CTNNI and hearing their concerns, the Commissioner said;

"Safe, affordable and accessible community transport is a vital support for many older people across Northern Ireland, with many depending on it as their only means of getting out of the house. It connects older people to friends, family and their community, allowing them to enjoy a social life and to remain active and engaged in community life. Many older people rely on community transport to attend medical appointments, and without this vital service they may not be able to attend their appointments or they may become reliant on others to help with lifts, which would reduce their independence.

"With Northern Ireland ageing faster than any other part of the UK, it is essential that vital, enabling services such as community transport are protected, and that the wider value of this service is understood and appreciated by government. Community transport allows older people to maintain dignified and independent lives and should remain a priority.