Sarah and Kirsty gain confidence with travel training

Sarah and Kirsty Hepworth

Twins Sarah and Kirsty Hepworth never travelled on public transport on their own as they both have autism. They found it stressful with the noise and crowds, it overwhelmed them. They did not have the confidence in their ability to manage the journey.

The two wanted to continue their education at a local college in the next town, which is about 10 miles from home in East Sussex. To get to college they needed to use public transport confidently on a daily basis on their own.

Gaining confidence using LiftTraining

Thanks to National Star’s travel training programme, Lift, they can now confidently travel on their own to college by bus and by train. The training has also given Sarah confidence to do a little shopping in the same town as her college.

They trained separately with National Star trainers to ensure they felt capable of travelling alone. With one-to-one support from National Star, they learned about road safety, how to buy tickets, how to determine which platform they needed to go to and how to read timetables.

They started with the bus stop nearest home and then the train from the local train station in the town. They learned about which bus stop to use, how to ask for the right ticket for the bus to the station and, at the train station, to ask for the right train ticket and destination that they needed. They also learned to use a self-service ticket machine and read a timetable.

The girls were given emergency scenarios and taught how to deal with different situations that might happen and how to stay safe in a situation and about their personal safety.

Their mum has confidence in their training and is confident that if they have a problem that they can’t deal with or if they need some additional support they will call her.

They had to cope with lockdown in spring 2020 and continued with training online, which went very well. As lockdown eased, National Star trainers visited their garden to resume face-to-face training and then practical training.

The girls decided they would cope better with walking from home to the train station instead of taking the bus, so they practised with the trainers, who observed while maintaining distancing. When college was about to start, the girls undertook a journey with their trainers observing how the girls would do.

They coped brilliantly with their journey and now travel independently.

Learn more about National Star’s travel training programme, LiftTraining

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