Geoff, Lynn and Andrew’s story

Lynn and Geoff have always wanted their eldest son, Andrew, to have the same freedoms and opportunities as his two younger brothers.

But unlike Jonathan and Owen, Andy has learning disabilities, which affect his speech and motor skills. And although he has lived away from home for several years in a shared Hft house, he still needs frequent support with everyday tasks.

Knowing that Andy was a life-long railway enthusiast, Hft staff came up with a plan to give him greater independence. They joined forces with Lincoln social services to enable Andy to travel independently from his home in Sheffield to Hull, where his parents live.

Andrew’s support workers talked him through what to expect, where to get off the train, and what to do if he felt unsure or unsafe. On his first few trips, they would accompany him for the whole journey; then over time they would say goodbye to him on the platform, and jump on the next carriage along so that they were on hand if he needed them. For extra reassurance, they also supported Andy to buy an SOS bracelet, containing medical information and contact details.

It took almost two years, but in time Andrew developed the confidence and skills to take the journey by himself. He’s now been travelling to Geoff and Lynn’s house on a regular basis for the last ten years.

Geoff and Lynn both agree that being able to take the train by himself has boosted their son’s confidence enormously.

“I was apprehensive at first,” says Geoff, “but I had confidence that Hft wouldn’t have suggested it if they didn’t think Andy could do it. He’s a trained traveller now!”