‘Welcome’ Aboard project to enhance rail travel for people with dementia among winners of government-funded competition

‘Welcome’ Aboard, a new service which aims to improve the rail travel experience for people living with dementia, is among the winners of an innovation competition, run by RSSB, the Rail Safety and Standards Board, as part of the Department for Transport’s work to improve accessibility for all passengers.

In this project, Go Upstream, a new training company focussing on travel and dementia, Scottish Assistive Tech Start-up Neatebox, and Open Change, experts in service design, will work with the Dementia Engagement & Empowerment Project (DEEP) network of people living with dementia and London North Eastern Railway.

‘Welcome’ Aboard is a project that uses an existing smartphone app that works for both passengers and staff, providing two-way communication and a ‘check-in’ feature that alerts staff to a passenger’s arrival at the station. ‘Welcome’ Aboard will combine the Welcome by Neatebox app with Go Upstream’s experiential training programme to ensure that staff are better equipped to meet the needs of people requesting assistance as well as delivering a more tailored, responsive and real-time assistance service. Importantly, people living with hidden disabilities are at the heart of this project – sharing their experiences and expertise in travelling, informing and shaping the design of a solution that truly responds to their needs and the needs of other passengers requiring assistance.

Pictured Ken Reid (RNIB Case Study)

Nusrat Ghani, Transport Accessibility Minister, said: “I am determined to make sure that our railways are accessible to everyone, and that we remove any barriers faced by disabled people.

“That’s why earlier this year we launched the Inclusive Transport Strategy, the next step in achieving a genuinely inclusive transport network.

“Everyone deserves the right to travel independently and with confidence. Supporting innovative projects like ‘Welcome’ Aboard demonstrates our commitment to improving people’s journeys, and I look forward to seeing how this app will benefit passengers in the years to come.”

Andy Hyde, Director of Go Upstream said: If we are to create truly inclusive travel services, we have to bring the expertise and experience of people living with conditions such as dementia into the design process from the very beginning. This project is a fantastic opportunity to do this, bringing LNER staff together with people with dementia to explore how Go Upstream’s training and service improvement process and Neatebox’s ‘Welcome’ app can be combined to enhance assisted rail travel.”

Rachael Litherland from Innovations in Dementia, hosts of the DEEP network, said: “People with dementia say just how important it is to continue to be able to get out and about, and enjoy their lives. It’s really exciting to be part of this project, making the most of technology to assist people on their journeys.”

Gavin Neate, CEO and Founder of Neatebox: “The Neatebox team are incredibly excited to be involved in developing this solution alongside such fantastic partners.  We are keen to underline that we aim to not only support the disabled traveller but equally the customer service team member who often finds themselves in challenging situations potentially without all of the knowledge they need to give the very best assistance.”

Hazel White, Director of Open Change, said: “Making public transport inclusive for everyone is a great opportunity – and a challenge. We are delighted to be part of a team that includes those living with dementia, station staff, technologists, service designers and dementia specialists to co-design services that meet that challenge”.

After an initial research and development stage the ‘Welcome’ Aboard app will be trialled at a major UK station.

While the project will focus on people with dementia, ‘Welcome’ Aboard has the potential to benefit all customers who wish to use Passenger Assist since it can be tailored to a customer’s needs.

If you would like additional quotes, images or information about the project, please contact: Sabrina Fuchs, 07575 868626, [email protected]

About Neatebox

Founded in 2011 by former guide dog mobility instructor, Gavin Neate, Neatebox looks to improve the lives of disabled people through the application of solutions using smart technology. With accessibility being built into modern smart devices as standard, Neatebox aims to address issues and help promote equality and inclusivity through the applications they produce. Welcome not only supports disabled people but also ensures that customer service staff is well trained in the interactions. Learn more at www.neatebox.com

About Go Upstream

Founded in 2018, Go Upstream is building on work supported by the Life Changes Trust, exploring the challenges of travelling with dementia. By bringing people with dementia together with travel service staff, Go Upstream helps people to share experiences and expertise, improve travel services and build a better understanding of dementia by designing solutions together. More information at www.upstream.scot

About DEEP

DEEP stands for the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project – it is the UK network of dementia voices. DEEP consists of around 100 groups of people with dementia – groups that want to change things. DEEP connects groups to each other to magnify the views, hopes and intentions of people with dementia. It supports groups to share learning and skills and to increase confidence.

About Open Change

Open Change support service providers and users to explore problems and solutions together using design tools. We work across organisations to develop leadership skills, build community and deliver training and service re-design support.

More information at www.openchange.co.uk

About LNER

LNER operates rail services on routes totalling 936 miles, from London to Peterborough, the East Midlands, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and beyond to Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow. www.lner.co.uk