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Chloe at the tram stop with Travel Trainer Elizabeth.
Chloe at the tram stop with Travel Trainer Elizabeth.

Disability travel service up for two national awards

7 November 2017

Two travel training schemes that teach people with learning disabilities to travel independently, run by Sheffield City Council, have been shortlisted for national awards.

In the past eight years, the schemes have helped more than 700 people make journeys by public transport, from home to school or work, giving them the confidence to go out by themselves and live fuller lives with increased independence.

Now the two schemes are up for national Modeshift awards, after being shortlisted out of 90 nominations. The winners will be announced on 9 November at the Annual Modeshift Convention, which is being held in Sheffield this year.

Chloe, a 20 year old student with learning disabilities, felt ok walking around her local community to the shops and her voluntary position at a local charity shop. She could also catch the tram a few stops to college but didn’t feel able to go anywhere else.

She felt isolated and didn’t have the confidence or the knowledge to hop on a bus to meet friends in the city centre, or go shopping at Meadowhall, like other 20 year olds do.

Chloe’s mum, Lynne, got in touch with the Travel Training team who paired her with travel trainer Elizabeth. Together they worked out a plan of all the places she wanted to go.

Elizabeth travelled with Chloe from her home in Gleadless to the city centre on the bus and to Meadowhall on two trams so she could go out with friends or go to the cinema without relying on her mum.

Lynne was also concerned about what would happen if she or Chloe’s dad were taken ill. Elizabeth showed Chloe how travel to her Grandad’s work place, so she can now get to her family if an emergency occurs.

Chloe said: “Now I can get to Meadowhall without getting lost! I don’t need to call my mum anymore as I know my way around.

“I found travel training really helpful, my travel trainer, Elizabeth was really friendly. If I didn’t do my travel training I would be stuck at home.

“I feel independent now that I can go out, it gives my mum a break as she doesn’t need to run me around anymore”.

Chloe’s mum said: “Thank you so much for your help.”

Families and carers of young people with disabilities are often very reluctant for their children to travel unaccompanied. Indetravel helps families overcome this, planning routes that allow the child to travel safely without always relying on their carers and giving them the confidence to go where they want to go.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s wonderful that our travel training teams have been shortlisted for these awards. The Indetravel team work with children, young people and their families to help young people with disabilities travel independently – but it’s more than that. The team take time to support and encourage the young people on their journey to independence, developing confidence and life skills.

“I know that some parents and carers worry about their youngsters travelling on their own but through our training, tailored to each individual, we see some fantastic results. I remember one parent telling me that Indetravel had not only changed her daughter’s life, but hers as well.

“Whatever happens at the awards, I believe our travel training team are real winners.”

Many people with learning disabilities want to work but only four to six per cent go into employment or volunteering roles. To get out and about socially, people with learning disabilities are often placed in group activities and taken by taxi, rather than being able to choose what they want to do and travelling by themselves.

Travel training is helping to change this in Sheffield, where many more people with learning disabilities are entering into further studies, employment and volunteering, as well as becoming active in their communities and enjoying the leisure activities they choose to do.

Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said: “We provide travel training to help people with learning disabilities live more independently and do the things that they want to do.

“The training makes a huge difference to people’s confidence, giving them independence and the freedom to get around. It’s a real achievement for them to overcome the barriers they face and the people taking part should be really proud of this.

“I’m very pleased that the hard work of our teams is being recognised and I hope this will encourage more people to seek our help.”

Sheffield’s Travel Training is available to any learning disabled young people or adults who need support to enable them to travel independently. Referrals can be made through Sheffield’s social work teams, GPs, family members, schools and colleges or by the individual who wants support.

Both the children and adults teams provide tailored services to each individual, pairing them up with a trainer who supports them through their journeys, for as long as they are needed.

The teams work together to make sure young people have the support they need to continue growing their independence from childhood to adulthood.

Travel training for children and young people
Indetravel, the council’s training scheme for children and young people, has been operating for eight years and helps children aged 11 – 19 travel independently to and from their place of education.

Working with students on a one-to-one basis, Indetravel teaches young people on crossing roads safely, planning journeys, how to travel on buses and trams, stranger awareness, looking after belongings, timetables and what to do in unexpected situations. The team work closely with schools, colleges and parents to ensure these young people can go on to explore the life and career opportunities that they’re interested in.

To find out more call 0114 2053542 or email Indetravel@sheffield.gov.uk

Travel training for adults
Travel training for adults has been offered by the council’s Learning Disability Service for the past four years and has helped more than 400 people.

Many young people who were trained by the Indetravel service transfer to the adults team as they continue their journeys in to adulthood.

The service is available for people aged over 18 years old and teaches them to get around and go to all the places they want to go, whether that’s college, work, voluntary roles, community centres or simply shopping, visiting friends and family or going to the cinema.

To find out more call 0114 273 4908 or email LDWrapAround@sheffield.gov.uk

Sheffield’s Travel Training and Indetravel have been shortlisted for:

  • Best sustainable travel initiative – Education; recognising projects and initiatives for travel to and between education providers, developed by individuals and groups to promote and encourage sustainable travel.
  • Contribution to sustainable travel – Organisation; recognising organisations that have made a significant contribution to sustainable travel locally or nationally.

Find out more about the awards at http://modeshift.org.uk/.