Ten years of transporting Sunderland’s sick and getting disabled people to work

Eddie and June Kerry with John Longsdale - celebrating the tenth anniversary of Compass Community Transport.
Eddie and June Kerry with John Longsdale - celebrating the tenth anniversary of Compass Community Transport.
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BOSSES at a community transport company are wheeling their way towards 10 years of success.

Sunderland’s Compass Community Transport marks a double celebration this month as it reaches its 10th birthday and hits a £1million turnover.

For a decade, husband-and-wife team Eddie and June Kerry have headed the company from its base in Leechmere Industrial Estate as general and office manager.

The transport project was launched in 2002, after funding was provided to set up a community transport link for some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

It started with just three vehicles, three paid members of staff and a dedicated team of volunteers, before expanding into Washington, Hetton and Houghton and setting up a commercial arm, securing its operator’s licence to become self-funding in 2007.

It now has 28 vehicles, including 18 minibuses, eight service vehicles and two crew shuttle vehicles and employs 33 full-time paid employees, including 25 drivers, two valets and cleaner and six administration staff.

Compass customers include City of Sunderland Hospitals, St Benedict’s Hospice, Sunderland City Council, the Alzheimer’s Society and more than 150 groups.

Community groups have hailed the service as a lifeline, as it takes disabled people to work, sick people to healthcare and older people to the shops and provides transport for a range of clubs, voluntary bodies and care homes.

Eddie said: “I would like to thank the board past and present for their support over the years. Also the regeneration team at the start of this project, as without their help they would not have gained the support to set up Compass Community Transport.

“I also thank all the other community type groups that they have worked with and continue to work with and also at the start of this project, the support of the City Of Sunderland and Nexus, and finally all the staff and volunteers past and present that have worked to make Compass Community Transport what it is today.”

Compass staff, who are based in Sandmere Road, are inviting board members new and old, members of the original regeneration team and group leaders past and present to join them for tea and cakes to celebrate its birthday.

Its commercial arm includes coach, mini bus and car hire.