Paul’s Travel Buddy Success

Paul lives In Oxford and is a co-farmer at FarmAbility which is an outdoor, farm-based programme for people with learning disabilities and autism. Paul had been relying on taxis to transport him to the farm and back but the money to fund these was coming to an end so Paul wanted to learn how to get the bus there and back independently.

He was paired with Travel Buddy Mick who is a similar age and has a shared interest with Paul in the local motorcycle racing events at Speedway. Paul’s assessment at the outset of the training revealed that while he enjoyed travelling, he had never travelled independently and was feeling a bit unsure about it.

Mick met Paul outside his home once a week to teach him the journey to the City Farm and collected him at the end of the day to practice the journey home with him. He taught him the route to the bus stop, how to count out the correct money for his fare, which bus he needed to catch and where to get off and how to do the longer walk from the bus stop to the farm safely. The coordinator accompanied them on the first journey to complete a risk assessment and to check that they were confident and comfortable with making the journey by themselves in the following weeks.

On the initial journey they made together as a pair they accidentally boarded the wrong bus which had the same number as the correct one but with the addition of a letter. This bus went a different route and when Mick realised, he sensibly spoke to the driver and they stayed on board until the bus arrived back at the place where they had boarded and they then got on the correct bus. While this could have been disconcerting, Mick was reassured that he had done exactly the right thing and that encountering unexpected issues and using problem solving skills were all useful parts of the learning experience for them both.

Paul picked up all the aspects of making the bus journey quickly; learning the route to and from the bus stops, the bus he needed to catch, how much money to bring for his bus fare and when to ring the bell and get off safely at the correct stop within the first few weeks. However, Paul is a fast walker and needed guidance from Mick to remember to stop and wait at each junction to check carefully for oncoming traffic before crossing. It took Paul a little longer to remember to do this consistently but after six weeks of travel training he was ready for his final assessment journey.

Paul, Mick and the coordinator completed the assessment forms at the end of a final observed journey and Paul achieved smiley faces in all areas and was ready to do the journey independently for the first time. Paul said that he had enjoyed the travel training and was proud to receive his certificate to mark his achievement at the end of the programme. Mick said that Paul has ‘done very well’ and said that ‘at the start he wasn’t waiting at junctions or at the green man, now he is very good at waiting and crossing safely’.

Without the Travel Buddy scheme, Paul may not have been able to continue his co-farming placement which he thoroughly enjoys and had been part of his familiar routine for many years and could have missed out on all the positive benefits that this provides him. Thanks to Travel Buddy Mick he is now able to confidently and safely access Oxford City Farm independently.

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