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Celebratory Event to Highlight Accessible Rail Travel Project Success

young person with ribbon

On Saturday 25th March, Rose Road staff, trustees, young people and their families came together at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, to celebrate the completion of an exciting three-year project to encourage and support more disabled children, young people and their families to access rail travel.

We are incredibly grateful to the Mayflower Theatre for hosting the event. With exclusive access to the theatre, it was a really fun day with entertainment, face painting, games and refreshments. Our grateful thanks to Laura from BackBeat Dance, who regularly provides dances sessions at Rose Road, to Nordoff & Robbins Music Therapy, and to Ashley Taylor Facepainting.

The knowledgeable staff at the Mayflower gave a tour of the accessible seating and facilities to a young person and their family, which helped bring their desire to visit the theatre closer to being a reality. Our long term ambassador and supporter Mike Andrews was on hand to share his expertise of the venue too.

The day was also a great chance for our families to find out more about how they can use the local rail network to access some great destinations across the region.

Over the last three years, Rose Road has been running the All Aboard project with funding from South Western Railway supporting for the first two years. The project has led to the development of a series of customisable, easy-read journey guides from train stations across the south to numerous local attractions and destinations, such as Bournemouth Oceanarium or Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.

These include station guides highlighting important features such as changing places and passenger assistance points, step by step guides to booking tickets and boarding the train, and games and checklists of things to spot while on the journey.

You can make and download your own guide for your next train journey on the All Aboard web page.

Emma Hurst, All Aboard project Manager, explains: “We found that a major barrier to families with disabled young people travelling by train was where to go for relevant information. This led to people feeling nervous. How will they access the station, find the lift or the accessible toilet? What help is available? Our helpful station and journey guides hopefully make the process of planning, booking and going on a train journey simpler and less stressful. There is still a long way to go to make sustainable travel the first choice for people with disabilities, but we know more of the young people at Rose Road are now making train journeys”.

young people with accessible map

Another exciting outcome of the project was the development of a series of accessible maps designed by Ordnance Survey. These maps highlight the most accessible routes through Southampton, Eastleigh, Romsey and Portsmouth to popular destinations. They clearly show features important to those with additional accessibility needs, such as drop curbs, traffic lights and obstacles on paths, to changing places, accessible toilets, cash machines and more.

You can find and download these maps from the on the All Aboard web page.

Thanks to the project funding, we were also able to cover the cost of dozens of train journeys for young people who use Rose Road’s services (several of whom are big train fans!), and for local families in the community who look after a disabled young person. They have made journeys to fun locations across the South without the need to use their allocated social care funding, which has vastly increased their opportunities to explore our region and feel a greater sense of belonging out in the community.

young people at Weymouth train station

Enabling easier access to the rail network for young disabled people, with resources to help you plan ahead and feel prepared, will hopefully help families to plan fun days out, visit new places, and ultimately reduce barriers to access that can lead to feelings of isolation.