A group of nineteen young people from Portsmouth took part in a pilot programme over the summer, which aims to give children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) more confidence when they travel on public transport.  

Funded by Portsmouth City Council, the scheme is being run in partnership with local disability charity Enable Ability and Trafalgar School. 

The young people, aged between 10 and 17 years old, took part in trips and activities designed to help them build their travel skills and confidence. They had the chance to plan journeys and get out and about around the city safely on foot and using public transport.  

As well as travelling around Portsmouth, the group also visited the council chamber in The Guildhall to talk about their experiences of using public transport. They discussed the challenges they face, such as anxiety around asking for help and how different types of tickets and fares can be confusing, as well as the things that can be helpful, like the ‘next stop’ announcements on buses.  

Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We know from young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families, that they want to build more independence to get out and about, but that planning journeys, buying tickets and using buses and trains can be daunting. We hope this programme allowed young people to gain confidence by having a go supported by carers and teachers.” 

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “It was very valuable to hear the ideas and concerns raised by young people and their families during the visit. We’re looking at how we can build on this programme by working with local transport providers to improve accessibility and raise awareness of some of the challenges these young people face.” 

James Donougher, Project Leader of the Portsmouth Teenage Holiday Scheme at Enable Ability, said: “Programmes and activities like this are incredibly important to the young people we work with, as they help reduce barriers in accessing public transport services. Having the confidence to get out and about on foot and on public transport really helps grow independence. It’s important that we listen to views, concerns and ideas these young people with disabilities have shared, so that together we can help make it easier and more enjoyable to get out about in Portsmouth.” 

The council will use the feedback from the young people’s visit to The Guildhall to help shape travel plans and policy and inform conversations with transport providers with the aim of addressing some of the challenges highlighted by the group.  

You can find out more about the special education and training provision available in Portsmouth for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and or a disability at www.portsmouthlocaloffer.org.   

For more information about Enable Ability’s service visit www.enableability.org.uk.