As part of Whizz-Kidz wider national travel campaign Get on Board, each member of the Kidz Board was asked to start a regional campaign to run alongside it. As the Kidz Board member for the South-East I talked with the other young people in my region about the many forms of transport which they thought needed to be more disabled friendly. We came up with two: ferries and trains
At first we thought we would try and run a campaign on ferries. Many of the young wheelchair users in our regional steering group live in the south by the sea and use ferries to get to the Isle of Wight or Channel Islands. However, in the end we all agreed that this might be too exclusive (not everyone uses ferries) and plus it’s not exactly cruise weather right now; running a campaign like this out of season would not have as much impact.
Because of this we agreed to look at making train stations more accessible. In the South East bus services aren’t that frequent and so most young people rely on the trains to travel to work, to college or just visit their friends. However, a lot of the stations aren’t exactly wheelchair friendly, which means young disabled people can’t be as independent as we’d like to be or travel around like non-disabled people else in the South East.
Once we decided on our cause we started spreading the word about our travel campaign using a variety of platforms. Social media is playing a big part – we are encouraging people to use the hashtag #SEmytravelhero on Instagram and Twitter when they have a positive experience at a train station or with a helpful member of staff.
We’ve also come up with our own set of stickers to show off where a station is disabled and wheelchair friendly. Each member of the regional steering group has a set of them so when they go to a station that either has a lift or a ramp or a disabled loo, they put a sticker on it, take a selfie with it and upload it to a social media platform (using the hashtag of course) to show off that this station is accessible.
We felt it was important as part of our campaign to champion the stations that are getting things right. But there are also a lot of things that need improving when it comes to trains too. For that reason we’ve written to Charles Horton, the CEO of Southern Trains informing him about the campaign and explaining the improvements we want to see made.
Since the local campaign was launched in the summer, we have had plenty of interest in what we are trying to do, as well as praise for trying to do all this at such young age. So far we’ve been able to increase awareness at the local stations in the South East as well as spread the word to the public. We are still waiting on a reply from Charles Horton, but we hope that we can also see some improvements made to the stations in our region.