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David Knapp and trainer travel Lydia Shapley
David Knapp and trainer travel Lydia Shapley

Travel training changes people’s lives

20 June 2016

Before David, a 50 year old man with learning disabilities, met travel trainer Lydia, he was living with his parents and only travelling by himself on council minibuses. He wasn’t going to some of the places he wanted to as he was scared of making the journeys.

Then David took part in travel training and moved away from his family home. He now travels by bus and goes to more of the places he wants to.

David Knapp said: “I didn’t want to travel. I didn’t want to do it. I just froze. And then I thought no don’t freeze. Just go and do it. And I did. And I’ve been going backwards and forwards for about a year on and off a bus.”

Last year Sheffield City Council provided travel training to 20 adults with a learning disability, as well as training children with learning disabilities. It now wants to raise awareness of the service and train at least 30 adults this year.

David’s travel trainer Lydia Shapley said: “It was lovely seeing David becoming more confident after travel training and being able to access his community.

“It’s definitely worth putting people forward for travel training because people do under-estimate how capable people are and until you try it you don’t know. There are several cases where people have said there’s no way they’ll be able to do that and now they’re travelling independently.”

Since taking part in travel training David goes to work on the bus and goes to meet his Mum and Dad and go out for lunches. He has a free travel pass and his brother is a bus driver so David is well known to other drivers who say hello to him when he’s travelling.

David added: “I think it’s stopped me paying for the transport and it’s made me do what I wanted to do for ages – go further than I have been.

“And it’s so enjoyable. I’m just going to keep on travelling.”

Travel training is available to adults who receive services from the council’s Community Learning Disability Team. People who have taken part have said their lives have changed for the better as they have more freedom and independence and are saving money by not using taxis. Family carers and support workers have also reported that people’s confidence has grown.

Councillor Cate McDonald, cabinet member for health, care and independent living at Sheffield City Council, said: “We provide travel training to help adults with learning disabilities live more independently and do the things they want to do.

“Everyone is entitled to live a full life and do the things we often take for granted, like travelling around.

“The team often find that people who take part in training go on to do further things, like get a job or do voluntary work. We want to encourage this and help provide the right kind of opportunities that help people with learning disabilities do more.”

The council is promoting travel training throughout Learning Disability Week 2016 which runs from 20-26 June.

Find out more about travel training and watch David’s story online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/traveltraining or phone 0114 226 2900 for more information.

Visit www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/learning-disability-week to find out more about learning disabilities week and how to get involved.