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Travel buddies congratulated on the road to independence

Adults with learning disabilities who have learnt to use public transport or helped others to use it have celebrated their achievements at a Town Hall awards presentation.

The “Buddies” are part of Lambeth Council’s Without Walls Travel and Transport Project. The project sees travel assistants support people to become more independent by using buses, trains or the Underground rather than relying on door-to-door transport such as taxis.

This offers the opportunity for service users to train and work as paid travel buddies who accompany other adults with learning disabilities who may need more support on their journey to day centres, college or work.

Jo Cleary, Executive Director or Adults’ and Community Services and Lambeth Mayor Christopher Wellbelove presented Michael Elliott from Streatham with his certificate for training as a travel buddy.

Mr Elliott has been walking with Karen Murphy on her trips to Tulse Hill Day Centre and Lambeth College since November. He said: “I like being a travel buddy and it’s satisfying to help Karen get out and about, especially as she can’t see very well.

“It’s also good because I’m getting paid to do this and it gives me more independence.”

Neil Lloyd received an award for completing a Travel Training course to travel independently. “I now get the bus from Streatham to the day centre at Tulse Hill where I am a volunteer. I was shown the way until I got used to it and could travel on my own. It’s given me more confidence,” he explained.

Stephen Overton from Streatham received an award for walking and using public transport. Stephen is accompanied to Tulse Hill Centre with travel assistant Helen Johnstone.

His father Bert Overton said: “Stephen likes to use buses because he feels he’s getting some freedom.”

There are currently two trained travel buddies but the project hopes to train and employ six more people.

Jet Hull, Lambeth’s head of short breaks and day services, said: “The benefits include better health because people are using public transport or walking rather than using door-to-door transport.

“They are learning new skills and the scheme increases the presence of adults with learning disabilities in the community to create a more inclusive Lambeth.”

Lambeth Council Executive Director for Adults and Community Services Jo Cleary said “The council wants to make sure that people, who for a very long time didn’t have much say over their own lives, can become more independent whether through choosing their own care as part of self-directed support or through projects such as this one.”

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