Charity's 10 years of teaching safe travel to vulnerable young people
- Credit: DABD
A charity is celebrating 10 years of its Travel Training programme which has helped more than 500 young people over the past decade.
Run by the Disablement Association for Barking and Dagenham (DABD), the initiative helps vulnerable young people learn to travel independently, building up their confidence in the process.
It has proven invaluable to young people from Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest over the years. Hornchurch student Alexander Green is among those to benefit.
The 19-year-old, who has autism, was paired up with travel trainer Paul Trinnaman for 12 weeks last year.
Alexander - who finished the programme in March - is one of many Paul has helped during his three years on the job. He decided to come on board because he wanted a post-retirement challenge.
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Paul said: "I had previously been involved in training and coaching and this seemed like a great opportunity to inspire young people in the local community.
"Most students are lacking confidence, especially when it comes to travelling independently and making decisions."
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The key, according to Paul, is to "inspire self-confidence".
He continued: "I want them to find out if they can do it by gently moving them out of their comfort zone. Gradually over the course of the training I fade into the background of their journey until the student is travelling alone, safely and securely, and their families are fully confident in their ability to return home.
"These young people inspire me as much as I hopefully inspire them."
Paul's words are music to the ears of programme leader Kerry Cannadine, who believes it shows "what can be achieved in such a short space of time".
Describing such rapid progress as "remarkable", she added: "Enabling a child or young adult to travel to school or college on their own every day can be a game-changer but also a huge worry. That’s why we go so much deeper than just learning a route."
The methodical approach of matching each young person to the best placed trainer has proven crucial to the programme's longevity.
Though the service is not running due to Covid-19, charity CEO Elaine James hopes that its success over years will encourage local authorities to return when the programme restarts.