South Western Railway (SWR) has joined with Hampshire County Council (HCC) to support ‘Travel with Confidence’ - a project to help those travelling with non-visible disabilities.
The project, which is organised by Hampshire Community Rail Partnership (CRP), aims to provide information and training on how to enjoy travelling by public transport for people who have non-visible disabilities such as autism, anxiety or phobias which can make travelling by bus or train a difficult experience.
The first phase of the project, funded by HCC Adult Services, was completed by the CRP with the publication of a booklet of resources called ‘Help is at Hand’ after extensive consultation with local disability groups. This booklet is a wonderful resource which can be shared with groups and organisations supporting people with non-visible disabilities.
The project’s second phase is now underway, supported by SWR. This sees Hampshire CRP and other groups working with Winchester Go LD, a local charity, to teach people with non-visible disabilities how to travel with confidence. They will also be helping learning disability groups with individual travel planning resources followed by visits to stations and rail journeys together.
Winchester Go LD are also producing video resources which teach important skills such as boarding trains safely and how to seek help at stations. SWR has previously supported with a ‘try the train’ trip, where community ambassadors help reassure and educate those who have not travelled by train before, or those who have limited experience on the railway, to help them see that it can be an accessible mode of transport that everyone can feel comfortable using. This project also encourages greater independent travel in the longer term.
Paula Aldridge, SWR’s Community Rail Manager said:
“SWR is always looking for ways to improve access to railway travel and so we were delighted to support Hampshire CRP’s project.
“We want all our customers to feel confident and comfortable on our services and we hope these resources and the work that Winchester Go LD are doing will make their future journeys on public transport easier.”
Betty Chadwick, Winchester Go LD’s CEO said:
“Train travel can be particularly difficult for people with learning disabilities. Stations tend to be busy places; people in a hurry, lots of noise, fast moving information screens and general hustle and bustle provides a challenging and chaotic environment for those who find it difficult to process information. For people with a learning disability train stations can be extremely stressful.
“We are thrilled to be part of this project and are keen to share our travel experiences and tips with peers.”
Lucy Lomax, Hampshire CRP’s Rail Officer said:
“It is heart-warming to see this project grow from a Zoom call a couple of years ago to seeing individuals and groups travelling together and sharing their knowledge and confidence.”