In the few years that we have been running our Travel Buddy project, we have learnt that learning to travel independently is about so much more than being able to take the bus.
Getting out and about (without having to rely on taxis, parents, or support workers) improves confidence, self-esteem, and access to social opportunities.
Darren contacted Travel Buddy last year because he thought learning to travel into Oxford by bus would help him to get a job.
He told us that he had been out of work for a while and he was getting a bit bored because he didn’t have enough to do in the daytime.
With the help of Keith, his Travel Buddy, Darren quickly learnt to travel by himself into Oxford. He is now learning the journey by bus to Kidlington so he can meet his Mencap employment and wellbeing support worker each week, and the journey by train to Didcot so he can go to Style Acre’s T2 Centre do some sport activities - he loves football!
Through being involved in Travel Buddy, Darren found out about and has started to go to Stingray nightclub, where he has met some new friends. Keith and Darren have also developed a good friendship and meet up for a coffee in Oxford in their own time.
Darren’s parents told us, “Darren is so much happier since he started travel training with MLMC. We don’t know how Darren would have learnt all these journeys if MLMC didn’t exist.”
Tarik’s Social Worker refered him to travel Buddy so that he could get to college without using a taxi. He goes the City of Oxford College four days a week where he is studying numeracy and literacy.
When we asked him why it would help him to use buses he said, “I would like to go out more, I spend a lot of time at home on my own and I would like to make more friends.”
Tarik started learning the journey by bus to college with his Travel Buddy, William. They have developed a good friendship and share a love for gaming. Tarik has now learnt the journey to college by bus and the return journey home too.
He now meets his friends from college at the weekends and has stayed in touch with William. William has offered to start helping Tarik learn the journey to other places and they plan to start going to our Young People’s Group together.
Tarik says, “My confidence and self-esteem have grown a lot since I started traveling to college on my own.”
Tarik’s brother Fakrul says, “Tarik is like a different person, he is much happier now.”
Abul is taking part in Travel Buddy because he wants to be more confident using the bus. He told us that since his new day centre is only a short journey away from his home, he wants to travel there by bus rather than be driven in the car by his staff.
Shaun is Abul’s Travel Buddy. He has shown Abul how to travel to the day centre, and to his weekly IT course. Abul says, “Shaun is very supportive and helpful when I get anxious. I like Shaun and I want to keep learning new journeys, it makes me feel good.”
Abul’s staff say, “Abul is happier getting the bus. He likes to do things for himself.”