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On the road to independence

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Young people with special needs are being helped on the road to independence thanks to support from Dudley Council’s road safety team.

Members of the team provide one to one support to young people with special needs who are ready to take the step towards independent travel on public transport.

Young people in years 9 to 11 can benefit from the training which is tailor made for each individual, helping them to make this step towards independence.

Each pupil is allocated a travel trainer who accompanies them on their journey to and from school, travelling with them from door to door initially, before gradually reducing the time and distance the pair travel together, until the young person is able to travel entirely by themselves. The amount of sessions required to achieve this can vary greatly, depending on the needs and confidence of the young person.

Sarah Mocroft parent of a young person who took part in the independent travel training scheme said:

It’s done absolute wonders for Brad. It’s given him that independence that you want your kids to have.
He did a few months training in his last year at school, he’d meet his trainer and they’d get on the bus together, and gradually she’d back off and he’d be travelling more independently without realising. He picked it up really well and he loved being able to go to school on his own. He knows all the safe places he can got to ask for help if he gets lost, but he’s so capable now that he knows all his bus routes and can tell his mates which buses they need to catch.
Now he’s 17 and at college he can go to college, come back and say ‘Mum, I’m off to Merry Hill’ and he’ll toddle off and I know he’s safe. I want him to be able to go off and meet up with his mates, but when your child’s got special educational needs it’s not that straight forward. The training has given him that confidence and independence. I wouldn’t have let him go off to Merry Hill on his own without the travel training, but now I know I can. It’s been absolutely brilliant, I’m so grateful for the support we’ve had and I am as proud as punch of Brad.”

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member responsible for road safety said:

Independent travel training gives our young people the opportunity to gain the confidence and skills which allow them to take a step towards adulthood and independence.
Our staff provide bespoke support, whether the student needs five or forty sessions, they will work with them until everyone is happy and confident for the young person to travel by themselves. I am proud of this scheme which helps young people like Brad on their path to independence.”

Within the past twelve months the team has helped 28 young people gain the skills and confidence they need to travel independently.

The road safety and travel awareness team also offer a range of services including cycle training, pre-driver training and presentations for school pupils and community groups.

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