Scheme helps people with learning disabilities to become independent travellers

Robert Leeder, third from right, receiving his TITAN training certificate. He is pictured with left

Robert Leeder, third from right, receiving his TITAN training certificate. He is pictured with left to right: Tesco store manager Andrew Doherty; Maxine Howe, service manager; Robert’s father Denis; TITAN programme co-ordinator Mable Cates; Richard Mills, TITAN travel traniner and Robert’s mother Cheryl. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

Adults with learning disabilities are being given the opportunity to travel independently with the help of a training scheme.

Travel Independence Training Across the Nation (TITAN) is a Norfolk County Council initiative designed to encourage people with learning disabilities to become safe and independent travellers.

Recent TITAN graduate, Robert Leeder, spent time with his travel trainer to achieve his goal of travelling to and from his place of work in Thetford.

The 42-year-old, who has worked at Tesco for nearly 20 years, previously had to rely on his father to take him to and from work three times a week. After five sessions with his travel trainer Richard Mills, he now has the ability to negotiate a two stage journey, changing buses in Thetford town centre.

Robert's father Denis said: 'This has been life-changing and so helpful for the family. I had a doctor's appointment last week which normally I would have had to rearrange as it clashed with picking Robert up from work.'

The scheme's trained staff also help young people aged 16 and over to build their confidence and decision making skills to travel to their chosen college.

Last year, more than 300 students with learning disabilities received the training service, which achieved a 75pc pass rate.

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Mr Mills said: 'People with a learning disability are issued with a concessionary bus pass but don't always have the confidence in using it. 'TITAN can give the individual a lifelong skill that opens up their world to new possibilities for the future.

'It makes it so worthwhile if I see one of the adults I have supported to become independent, out and about using public transport.'

Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council's chairman of the adult social care committee, said the authority currently spends £119m a year of services for people with learning disabilities which helps to support around 2,600 at any one time.

He added: 'It's really important that we give people living in Norfolk the opportunity to travel independently.

'The ability to use facilities such as public transport, shops or recreational services is essential to a person's wellbeing and social inclusion.

'The TITAN is a cost-effective approach which helps people to develop new skills and take risks that are positively managed.'

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