Merseytravel and Autism Access

April Ryan made this Freedom of Information request to Merseytravel

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Merseytravel,

I would like to request the following information, please.

From March 2014 to the present day:

1 - What provisions have been put in place to accommodate autistic passengers on Merseytravel services?

2 - Could you tell me what types of training staff members have taken to help understand the needs of passengers on the autistic spectrum?

3 - As an estimate, how many individuals on the spectrum have utilised your travel networks?

Finally, a question without a timeframe:
4 - What plans do Merseytravel have to better accommodate travellers on the on autistic spectrum, and to what extent have Merseytravel liaised with local charities and self advocacy groups to improve accessibility?

Thank you very much for reading this.

Yours faithfully,

April Ryan

Henderson, Andrew, Merseytravel

Dear Ms. Ryan

RSN18668

Thank you for your email to Merseytravel. Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 / Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me. Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Henderson

Senior Information Management Officer | Merseytravel | Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
Office: 0151 330 1679 | Email: [Merseytravel request email]

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Henderson, Andrew, Merseytravel

Dear Ms. Ryan

RSN18668

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information Act. Please find Merseytravel’s response to your enquiry below.

1 - What provisions have been put in place to accommodate autistic passengers on Merseytravel services?

While Merseytravel does not provide any public transport services directly, as part of the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance we have worked with Arriva and Stagecoach to develop a bus driver training, which includes both autism and dementia awareness. This has seen training delivered to c.2000 drivers. Further details of this work can be found in the article below.

https://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/16287...

We have also included awareness of autism and other hidden disabilities in the work of the transport academies that have recruited c.300 new drivers.

In addition, while Merseytravel is not involved in the day to day operations of the local rail network, Merseyrail have advised that upon induction all front line staff undertake disability awareness training, covering both visible and non-visible disabilities. This is designed to prepare Merseyrail staff to recognise vulnerable passengers and to be in a position to provide support as required.

2 - Could you tell me what types of training staff members have taken to help understand the needs of passengers on the autistic spectrum?

Merseytravel have been delivering or facilitating Autism Awareness Training in various guises since 2016. Since May 2017 the main method of delivery has been through an in-house Hidden Disabilities one-day course. This includes a 2-hour ‘A Closer Look at Autism’ module, which uses a mix of open source online resources and videos, guest speakers and PowerPoint slides to look at autism and how we can support people living with it who use our services.

The session starts with a definition of autism followed by a 15 question Open University online quiz and introduction video from the National Autistic Society. This is further supported by videos showing the experiences of traveling on bus and train. Each video is followed by question and answer session, highlighting the main message. Autism awareness cards are introduced, and issues such as ‘mate crime’ (the befriending of a vulnerable person in order to later exploit them) and hate crime are looked at.

Guest speakers, who are living with the conditions addressed, are invited to talk about their own experience using public transport. Attendees then work in groups looking at how they or their organisation could better support people living with autism and people caring for those living with autism. Each group feeds back to the whole class.

The final element looks at the aim of Autism Together and viewing a video on autism awareness within the Liverpool City Region.

Since the introduction of the course, 154 Merseytravel staff have attended the one-day course. A further 60 individuals from other organisations such as The Beatles Story, Merseyrail, Merseyside Police, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Local Councils, Trade Unions and Community Groups have also attended the course.

Merseytravel staff have also attended one-day autism awareness courses delivered in-house by Autism Together & Autism Adventures (12 Staff trained as Autism Champions) and the Open University in collaboration with Unison (6 officers trained).

3 - As an estimate, how many individuals on the spectrum have utilised your travel networks?

Merseytravel unfortunately does not hold any recorded information in relation to this question.

Finally, a question without a timeframe:
4 - What plans do Merseytravel have to better accommodate travellers on the on autistic spectrum, and to what extent have Merseytravel liaised with local charities and self-advocacy groups to improve accessibility?

Moving forward, Merseytravel will continue to develop and deliver the Hidden Disabilities course for Merseytravel and partner organisations on average every 6 weeks throughout 2019.

Other spin off and bespoke sessions are also being considered and planned within Merseytravel and in partnership with other organisations such as:

• Unison & Open University one-day course
• Staff attending external autism training
• Hidden Disability course is open to transport (and other) partners, several Merseyrail staff will be attending the May course
• Develop E-learning modules through Merseytravel’s proposed E-Learning suite (from May 2019) and via open source courses
• Developing Reading Well elements within our Reading Ahead Challenge. For example, on World Book Night (23rd April) we will be providing 160 copies of “The Rose Project” – a book about a man living with Asperger’s Syndrome.

We also support a number of national awareness days and campaigns and will continue to promoted autism awareness throughout 2019, such as Autism Week from 1st to 7th April and World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April.

In terms of liaison work, Merseytravel have worked with Autism Together to support the Liverpool City Region becoming the most autistic-aware city region in the UK. Merseytravel was awarded the Autism Together Autism Champion status in 2017. In the last 18 months we have assisted them with filming on the transport network, facilitated a bespoke session to the Metro Mayor’s office and Households in to Work project. We have also worked with Knowsley Public Health and Wellbeing as part of our Hidden Disabilities course, and are in regular contact with the Knowsley Autism Service Development Group and have supported the Autism Charter by promoting awareness of autism with bus operators.

Merseyrail have advised that they work closely with Autism Ventures, Mencap, Southport College and Sefton Council in delivering presentations and education sessions that give travel training to the audience. They are undertaking a new approach that is planned to be rolled out in March to give a more practical aspect to the supporting of autism in both children and adults. This initiative has been titled “Just the Ticket”. This will deliver training in travel across both rail and bus along with safety of the railway in a practical way rather than the traditional classroom based training.

I trust that the information supplied is of interest to you.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review, which should be addressed to:
Mrs Julie Watling
Legal, Democratic Services & Procurement Manager
Merseytravel
PO Box 1976
Liverpool
L69 3HN
[email address]

If you are not content with the result of your internal review, you also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, whose address is
The Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.gov.uk

Andy Henderson

Senior Information Management Officer | Merseytravel | Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
Office: 0151 330 1679 | Email: [Merseytravel request email]

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