Luton youngsters with learning difficulties enjoy Thameslink ride to boost travel confidence

The group at St Pancras International. Some had never been on a train before.
The group at St Pancras International. Some had never been on a train before.

Thameslink is helping Bedfordshire youngsters with learning difficulties to become more independent by boosting their knowledge and confidence of train travel.

The company took Central Bedfordshire College students and their carers on a trip from Luton Airport Parkway to St Pancras International and showed the pupils how to find their way around a station, how to buy a ticket, and how to use automatic ticket gates, as well as running a Q&A session.

The special day was organised by Luton Airport Parkway manager Bernie Lee, Bedford station manager Joe Healy,and Prince’s Trust candidate, Taylor.

Joe said: “I really enjoy it; it’s just the satisfaction on their faces as they gain confidence. They were really excited. I was talking to one of the girls and said, ‘Would you travel on the trains again?’ because she wouldn’t before and she said yes, she would. She had some learning difficulties. It feels so great to hear that you’re making a real difference.”

Claire Andrews, college tutor, said: “I would like to thank Joe and his team at GTR so much for the generous and fantastic opportunity they have given my students.

“Living so close to our local train stations is great but young adults with disabilities and their families can find it very daunting and a scary prospect if they haven’t done it before.

“This experience has helped to build their confidence when using public transport and we will continue to work on the skills that they have learnt. Joe and his team were so accommodating, friendly and approachable – big thanks to them all.”

Pictured from left are tutor Claire Andrews (Luton), Raeesha Choudhury (Luton), support assistant Margaret Cootes (Dunstable), Emily Long (Flitwick), and Samar Adiab, Jason Malone and Eliseo Musumbu (Luton).