Hollingbourne Parish Council has received this news release about a Southeastern initiative to help passengers with hidden disabilities. Please read More for further information although it may take time for the scheme to reach Hollingbourne Station which is not staffed.
Southeastern is the first train operator to run schemes for hidden disabilities
Earlier this month, Southeastern launched pilot schemes for two initiatives that aim to generate increased awareness of the best way to support independent travel for passengers with hidden disabilities, autism and learning difficulties.
Schemes piloted on Tonbridge to Hastings route
As part of wider measures being rolled out across its extensive train network, Southeastern has launched a trial of both the JAM card and Sunflower Lanyard scheme, to support passengers who require more time or assistance when travelling across services, running on the Tonbridge to Hastings route.
Expectation is for a roll-out across the whole Southeastern network
If successful, the schemes will be rolled out more widely across the 176 stations, covering 540-miles of railway network, which Southeastern operates.
The ‘Just A Minute’ or ‘JAM’ card can be specifically used by passengers with a learning difficulty, autism, or by those who simply find difficulty in communicating. It enables a user of the card to inform a member of staff in a discreet manner that they might need a bit more time and support.
Meanwhile, the Sunflower Lanyard is made to be worn when the person who has a hidden disability (like dementia, anxiety, chronic fatigue or indeed autism), feel they need Southeastern employees to be aware they may need extra help when their condition may not be obvious.
Alongside both schemes, Southeastern has hosted a series of internal training sessions for all staff who will be working directly with members of the public.
Tonbridge staff member leads drive for change on hidden disabilities
Tonbridge Area Manager, Natalie Leister, is working with Southeastern’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Justin Ryan, to lead the push for greater awareness of many of these conditions. Natalie has a very personal link to the initiative and has taken an open stance on her desire to inform and influence change, driven by her experiences with her son, who was this year diagnosed with Autism.
Natalie Leister, Southeastern Area Manager has said: “When the consultant discussed my son’s diagnosis I’ll be completely honest, I cried. I don’t know why, it was a mixture of relief but also fear – I instantly worried about what was going to happen next.
“When it came to work, his diagnosis made me question the way we look at things as employees at Southeastern. A school boy with autism could quite easily be misunderstood by staff who are unaware of certain behaviours. By providing all staff on the Tonbridge to Hastings route with additional training, and by having “champions”, we can ensure they are knowledgeable and aware to hidden disabilities. I’m hoping that the trial will be a huge success and we can then roll it out across the network,”
Natalie recently wrote a piece in the Independent talking about her experience
Pictured below (top) is the JAM card and (bottom) is the Sunflower lanyard.
The website of the South Eastern Railway whose franchise expires next year is https://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/