On 1st March, clients from the Aldingbourne Trust, with their support workers, visited Barnham station, where Ed in the ticket office made sure they each received a valid travel ticket, funded by Southern Rail.  They were met by Rowena Tyler, SCRP Line Officer, Debbie Morris, GTR conductor manager, Jane, from the on-board supervisor team and Jamie Duffy, GTR station manager.

The clients are all adults with varying levels of learning difficulties and some physical disabilities.  The schedule was planned to show clients how a railway station functions, how to interact with staff and other passengers, and to boost their confidence for future trips.

Station familiarisation, finding wastebins, toilets, waiting rooms; listening and looking for announcements about imminent trains or changes to the service; boarding trains, using accessibility aids when needed were all covered during the day.  Stops included Worthing, Littlehampton and Ford, which gave opportunities to check the onward public transport provision, use the remote Help Point, and meet different members of staff along the way, learning about their roles.

Christian Turrell, a client with the Aldingbourne Trust who is already confident about using the trains independently, joined at Barnham, and was able to answer questions and explained about the different types of trains on the GTR/Southern Rail franchise.

The final stop on the journey was an invitation to visit the Engine Shed at Ford, which is the home of Gaugemaster, a large model railway store and an approved station partner.  James, Tracey and the staff at the Engine Shed showed the interactive models, including a railway track zooming around a village, and a car race track.

Before setting off to catch the train back to Barnham, each of the clients was given a ‘goodie bag’ from the Engine Shed, which included stickers, pencils and a kit to create a model signal box.

Message received from the Aldingbourne Trust support team, following our day out:

“Hi Rowena

I would like to say thank you very much to yourself, and your crew Jamie, Debbie, Jane, also Ed the ticket master and all the other staff that made this possible for the people we support, they haven’t stopped talking about it and sharing with their friends on a great experience. This has given them confidence using a train by themselves or with their support or family and gained knowledge on familiarising when using a train. It’s also given them confidence to ask a member of staff for help on your stations and they understand how to use the emergency button on the train.

Many thanks

Louise, Clare, Martyn, Emma, and our group.”