Getting around on transport if you or your child has additional needs can be difficult.
If your child has additional needs and mobility issues, you’ll know just what a headache it is getting from A to B, especially if you’re reliant on public transport.
Whether it’s hospital visits, enjoying social and recreational activities, or getting to school, college and work, transport can be tricky.
We’ve had a look at some of the public and community transport options and funding available for young people and adults in Wales and we’ve found some useful resources on ways to get around.
Transport to School
If your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), a disability or mobility problems, they are entitled to free school transport arranged by your Local Authority (LA). However, if you are told your child isn’t eligible then you should contact your child’s school and speak to the SENCo – Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. You could also contact SNAP Cymru for independent advice. IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice) has some really clear information that should answer most questions about your child’s eligibility for free transport.
Transport to College
When your child is aged 16-19 they will be leaving school and going on to college, training or supported employment. This is the ‘transition’ period.
If your child is going on to college, then your Local Authority has a duty to support them to enable them to study up to the age of 25. Your Local Authority should have a transport policy explaining this; to find out more, visit your county page on our website. Click on ‘Local Information’, scroll down to ‘Additional Needs & Disability’ and check your local links.
The Learning Support Officer at the college may be able to organise travel or help you apply for financial assistance through its Discretionary Support Fund.
For more info, call the Disabled Students’ helpline
Disabled Students’ helpline number: 0800 328 5050
Opening Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11am-1pm.
If you’re still unable to claim for support with transport costs, then you may be able to apply for a grant from the Snowdon Trust – you can apply between February and August to start college in September. Students with disabilities are entitled to a range of other grants and funding.
Travelling to hospital
Often people that have learning difficulties and disabilities have other health needs, and travelling to and from hospitals for treatment can be costly. If you are a low income family on Income Support, Universal Credit or other benefits, then you can claim back your travel costs.
If you are not on income-related benefits, you generally cannot claim for travel to hospital. However, sometimes there may be some exceptions and if you are on a low income but not getting benefits, you may still be eligible. You will need to complete this HC5W (T) form and send it away with your travel receipt.
If you need a hospital ambulance, you will need to contact the ‘General Office’ or ‘Cash Office’ at the hospital to arrange in advance.
Bus and Rail Travel
Young people with disabilities and complex needs (sometimes including mental health) can apply for a free or discount bus pass, and so can carers. A carer in this case does not necessarily have to be a professional or legal carer – it can be someone who accompanies a person with disabilities on a bus, for example a sibling or friend.
Orange Wallet – bus & rail travel
If your child has autism or other speech and language needs, the new Orange Wallet is a Welsh Government initiative designed to help them travel independently. Its bright colour alerts the guard or driver that they may need support, and the wallet can be used to display key words, pictures and phrases to help them get to their destination.
Claiming for Mobility Payment
If you are claiming DLA (Disability Living Allowance) for your child, or if they are now over 16 and claiming PIP (Personal Independent Payment) they may be able to claim for a higher mobility payment even if they are able to walk some distance. This may be because they are at high risk of running into the road, have no awareness of danger of the road, and being at risk of harm to self or others if travelling on public transport due to effects of their disability.
It is important to get advice from someone with experience in getting the most out of claiming DLA and PIP. Contact a Family has created a useful guide (pdf) and have more info on their website. You can also try your local Citizens Advice Bureau or any of the national mental health and disability charities for informal advice. Here is a useful factsheet for applying for DLA and PIP.
Community Transport operates a range of services such as ‘Dial-a-Ride’ and ‘Community Car Schemes’ to help people with disabilities travel to places such as their GP surgery or to the shops or event to social events and activities. Find your nearest service here.
Travel skills training and travel buddies.
There seem to be various schemes in England that offer travel buddies or bus travel training, to help young people catch buses/trains with support so they can get to social activities and clubs other than school/college. However, we couldn’t find any in Wales.
Do you know of any services near you or voluntary organisations that provide these services so we can let parents know? Please use our comment box below or email us at email@example.com so we can share the info.