Contribution to sustainable travel - Organisation

Independent Travel - Independent Life

Teaching learning-disabled young people and adults to use public transport is having a knock-on effect for more than just travel. At Sheffield City Council we are using Independent Travel Training as a spring board for better life chances for learning disabled adults and it is working well. Travelling by ourselves on public transport is a marker for independence for all of us. We all expect our levels of independence to grow from then on. In the past, we have not given learning disabled people those opportunities, and this has an effect through their entire lives. Now, we teach learning disabled young people and adults to travel on public transport by themselves. As a consequence of this, we are finding that those people are coming back to us demanding not only more travel training to more places, but expecting employment and life chances the same as everyone else. So we have responded to this by working together to offer more.

Local Authority contact details

Sheffield City Council Emma Cawley First Contact Floor 1 Howden House 1 Union Street Sheffield S1 2SH

Who was involved & what was their role?

Sheffield’s learning disability (LD) services have been offering travel training to children and adults for 4 years. Qualified travel trainers teach people with learning disabilities to use public transport by themselves. To see the videos of how this is done see Social workers in the Community Learning Disability Teams have noticed young adults who already travel by themselves and signposting them for more independence.

Details of cost budget, sources of funding

The Travel Teams have been funded by the Sustainable Travel Access Fund and previously Local Sustainable Transport Fund. The two projects received £190K between them for the first 3 years and for this year £100K between them. Some funding is matched by the Local Authority.

How was it developed?

Five years ago, very few young learning disabled people learned to travel to school and college by themselves. When they left college, a social worker would note that the person had never been on their own and they were not sure how the person might cope and look after themselves. Options for the person and the social worker were limited and so they might go to a day service instead. It would be difficult to break out of this cycle. It can be difficult for the learning disabled person to feel confident doing something by themselves. Since we started travel training people, things have grown from there with LD adults asking for volunteering, paid jobs and more travel training. So we brought in more services to help!

What was the outcome, including information on future plans - one-off, on-going, develop further?

• Over 500 learning disabled people trained to use public transport. • Over 500 people able to keep friends, go shopping and contribute to their community, do voluntary work, see family, get work. • Savings over £1.8million in transport costs to SCC. • Increase in referrals for independence from social workers. • 20 jobs for learning disabled people in the last 6 months. • For the adult trainees alone, If the local authority funded Personal Assistants instead of teaching people to do things themselves, then it would have cost £97,820 every year. Case Study Chloe Chloe had learnt to travel independently while at college. But it was only two stops on the tram and nowhere else for her to go. As an adult we built on the work of the children’s service and supported Chloe to go all over Sheffield. She has a voluntary job too. Chloe said ‘If I didn’t do my travel training I would be stuck at home. I feel independent now and it gives my mum a break’. 

How does this initiative or project meet the criteria?

What is innovative and creative is SCC building on Travel Training to make sure learning disabled young people keep travelling into adulthood, and retain their high expectations by building on this with employment and volunteering opportunities. Learning disabled young people and adults, have shown engagement by asking for more from our teams. In addition we work with bus, tram and train companies in Sheffield through Transport4All. We are able to address accessibility issues directly with our public transport partners. SCC is offering a joined-up approach, difficult in large organisations, by making sure we do not disable young people who have been trained by the children’s team, by making sure we offer refresher and new travel training, and by making sure we support them to build on their independence. Over 500 people have been taught to use public transport. 20 learning disabled people have built on that by finding paid employment with our support. Sustainability and longevity is proven because we have seen young people come to adult services for further travel training. SCC have reduced minibus use for disabled adults and saved over £1.8million in the process. We support adults to have the most independent option possible. This shows good value for money. Once adults have this much independence, they are very unlikely to go back to minibus travel.

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