Many of us take booking tickets online and using apps for granted. We can often easily find the best prices and at what time of day is best to travel. However, imagine if you don’t speak English as your first language, then this can become a barrier. Our project with Diversity House was designed to help us understand the barriers to travelling by train if you can’t easily speak the language. What challenges do they face on a daily basis?
We contacted Diversity House an organisation about 100 metres from Sittingbourne Station to help. Diversity House is a charity that provides community and prison based services for diverse communities across Kent.
The charity aims to promote community integration, re-integration, social inclusion and cohesion within the Swale and Kent communities.
“It is our belief that individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, religion and beliefs, sexuality, sexual orientation, social class, and other social factors, should be treated with dignity, respect and adequate opportunities to access services within the community.” (Diversity House Website)
After speaking to Christine Locke – the Chief Executive of Diversity House, it became very clear that there are vulnerable groups who are unable to access the same opportunities and remain isolated in their community. One of the barriers to this is not being able to speak the language and as a result lack self confidence in leaving their own house.
A plan was organised to help train a group of adults, who lacked the confidence to travel anywhere, to help plan a local journey and encourage them to visit a new destination.
The chosen group meet regularly on a Friday to attend English lessons. The group were taught some key vocabulary and phrases that would be helpful when travelling by train prior to our trip.
Travel Training Rochester Trip
On Friday 1st July a group of adults from Diversity House, mainly those who spoke English as a Second Language, were invited to join Kent CRP for some travel training and to take part in a trip to Rochester. A short train journey from Sittingbourne Station.
- to identify the cheapest ticket prices and the best time to travel
- know which platform the train departed from
- if they needed to make any changes
- which stations the train stopped at on route
- the cost of tickets if they had a rail card to make frequent journeys.
The second stage was to give the group a tour of their local station. Matt Fraser from Southeastern explained how they could use the ticket machine, information point and ticket office to help buy tickets or find out additional information.
Vytautus who has lived in the United Kingdom for the last 12 years commented
” I used the train a lot when I lived in Lithuania, but it was only one line, up and down. I now feel much more happier travelling by train in the UK. I have only ever used a train here once before, I would now like to take my wife and children to London for the day.”