Luke and Dean: A Travel Buddy pair

Luke is 21 years old and lives in Kidlington, Oxfordshire. He enjoys watching and talking about his favourite movies and TV series such as Dr Who.

Luke was able to travel independently by bus to Oxford City Centre but had recently secured a traineeship with a social enterprise outside the City Centre. Luke’s mum and dad work full time and were unable to drive him to this and the cost of taxis to get him there were prohibitive, so they made contact with MLMC requesting a Travel Buddy for Luke to teach him the journey to his placement.

Luke was paired with Dean, an experienced Travel Buddy, who has a keen interest in travel and knows all there is to know about local buses and trains! The pair were accompanied on their first two journeys to the placement by the Travel Buddy Coordinator who completed a risk assessment and ensured that Dean was confident in doing the new training journey with Luke and that they were comfortable in each other’s company. Thereafter they met once a week independently to practice the journey there and back.

Easy read assessment paperwork was completed at the outset of the training and at the end, to monitor Luke’s learning progress and to assess whether he had built the skills and confidence needed to do the journey alone safely and independently by the end of the travel training programme.

‘I feel proud.’

Dean taught Luke how to get to the bus stop and which bus he needed to catch. The initial assessment and the meeting with Luke’s mum, revealed that Luke didn’t always remember to look left and right before crossing roads. Dean showed Luke the safest places to cross the roads and Luke practiced waiting and checking carefully to ensure the roads were clear of traffic before crossing. Luke learnt to avoid walking in the cycle lane situated on the pavement leading to his placement and to be alert to passing bicycles.

After seven weeks of practicing the journey with his Travel Buddy, Luke progressed from rating himself on his self-assessment as feeling ‘too nervous’ to do the journey to feeling ‘very confident’ that he could do it independently. Luke said what he’d most enjoyed about the travel training was that Dean was ‘nice’ and he ‘liked talking to him’. He declared that he felt ‘proud’ and ‘happy’ that he could now get to his training placement on his own. Dean said that Luke had ‘done brilliant’ and that being a Travel Buddy ‘is the best job in the world’ as he gets to meet new people and go to new places.

The Travel Buddy Scheme has transformative and multiple benefits. The Travel Buddy trainer is engaged in meaningful, paid work that can make a life changing difference to their peers. Both trainee and trainer enjoy the interaction with each other and getting out and about which reduces the feelings of loneliness and isolation which disproportionately affects the learning disabled community. The financial and environmental costs of using cars, taxis and support staff or family members with limited time, to enable individuals with learning disabilities to access social activities and work or learning placements is reduced. In addition, the sense of empowerment, pride and well being that being able to travel independently and facilitating this for a peer brings to both trainer and trainee is priceless.

Bring the Travel Buddy Scheme to your organisation!

If you are interested in bringing these benefits to your organisation to enhance the lives of adults with learning disabilities, please get in touch.