25 May 2023
Confidence To Travel - lets get talking and learning about Transport For Wales’ Community Rail Ambassador.
Hi my name is Sian Jones and I work within the Community Rail Team as a Community Rail Ambassador for TFW based in beautiful North Wales where I was born and raised.
I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about what my role involves, I participate in all aspects of Community Rail which I love as I enjoy meeting and supporting people in any way I can so to me this is my perfect job. Each day is different, such as working alongside the volunteers who look after our stations to helping them work with the Community Rail Officers who cover the lines in my region, however the main aim of my role is to work on our Confidence to Travel scheme.
The Confidence To Travel project is aimed at people who are experiencing anxiety, lack of confidence, loneliness and social isolation. The intention is to work alongside people in groups experiencing these health challenges enabling them to boost their confidence in using the rail network and therefore helping to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
The scheme consists of the following five sessions:
- Understanding the barriers people face with regards to train travel
- Planning a journey, using the Travel APP/website, Explore the Journey checker, booking a ticket etc.
- Looking at our Assisted Travel Scheme
- Visiting a local train station
- Taking a purposeful train journey accompanied by a Community Rail Ambassador
These sessions can be amended and tailored with the needs of the people accessing the project.
Last year I interacted with 408 people introducing them to the scheme by carrying out presentations and talks and holding various sessions such as helping people find their way around the digital TFW App and how it can help them feel more confident when travelling on our network.
“It’s given me back my confidence to book the journey online”.
One session included me visiting a station with a group who were preparing for their first journey, all nervous travellers who need to use our service for social networking. Another popular session is where I talk about our Assisted Travel scheme and the initiatives we have in place to help customers with access needs travel comfortably, safely, and as independently as possible.
“I’m more confident to use trains again. An enjoyable trip, staff very friendly and offered the use of a ramp if required”.
I have taken groups on train journeys helping them feel more confident, I already have six journeys with groups planned over the next few weeks! In these sessions I accompany them on the journey to support them. This also enables me to experience the journey through their eyes, allowing me to further assist them with their individual needs. Examples of groups I have worked with and am currently working with include Housing Associations, groups for people with a vision impairment, pensioners, young people with learning difficulties, veterans, people suffering hearing loss and autistic groups.
A highlight of one journey was reading that 12 participants now felt confident to travel on the train following the trip and multi-generations came out together for the first time on an escorted journey to Betws Y Coed further feedback we have received included the following:
“It was so lovely to see how being out and chatting and engaging with Sian and other passengers had cheered my husband up and made his day, I've seen a great improvement in his overall demeanour, and it is lovely to see”.
I hope reading this provides you with an insight to the Confidence to Travel project and how it is impacting on people’s lives in a positive manner enabling them to feel confident when travelling on our network and how it can improve their overall wellbeing.