Fifty Bedfordshire adults with autism are excited to be getting involved in activities at their local railway station thanks to a new partnership with Thameslink.
Autism Bedfordshire has become an official station partner of Luton Airport Parkway, cementing the existing rapport between the charity and rail operator.
The new partnership will see the autistic adults meet Station Manager Joe Healy, go behind the scenes at the station to get an insight into operations and learn about staff roles. They will also take part in ‘Try a Train’ days, giving them the opportunity to learn about rail safety and train travel.
Other activities will see the adults working alongside an art therapist to create a mosaic for the London-bound platform 1 and look after the floral displays at the front of the station.
Coming up soon is Autism Awareness Week (March 30 – April 5), which the adults will mark by holding a bake sale for rail users to raise money for Autism Bedfordshire.
Autism Bedfordshire’s Adult Services Manager Sharna Raine said: “We’re so excited to be working with Thameslink and Joe. Not only will this partnership really help everyone in the local community understand the autistic community, it will also help our members feel part of the community and feel valued. More often than not, they don’t feel part of the community and don’t feel they fit in, but this is an opportunity to show everyone what they can do.”
Luton Airport Parkway and Harpenden Station Manager Joe, who hopes to offer some of the adults work experience, said: “We’re very excited to welcome Autism Bedfordshire on board as an official station partner, and look forward to working with the group on various projects to enhance the station environment. Stations are at the heart of communities and it’s wonderful to have community involvement.”
The new partnership has been facilitated by the Bedford to St Albans City Community Rail Partnership. CRP Officer Andy Buckley said: “We’re delighted to welcome Autism Bedfordshire to the Community Rail Partnership. This is the second partnership to be established on the line and we are currently in discussion with other groups who are interested in forming partnerships with Harlington, Flitwick and Bedford.”
GTR’s Community Engagement Officer Andrew Chillingsworth added: “It’s very important that we have all sectors of the community involved in our stations. Local stations are very much a focal point of the community, so it’s great to have local people involved.”
Note to editors
27% of individuals who access Autism Bedfordshire’s services are aged over 35.
In 2019, Autism Bedfordshire achieved the following:
182 members supported across the charity’s services
6,509 hours of support delivered
39 members supported into paid employment
32 supported into structured volunteering and training
For more information about Autism Bedfordshire, visit https://www.autismbedfordshire.net/
For more information about Community Rail Partnerships, visit https://www.thameslinkrailway.com/about-us/corporate-and-social-responsibility/communities/bedford-to-st-albans-crp
To follow all the Community Rail Partnership activities taking place on the Bedford to St Albans City line, you can follow Bedford to St Albans City Community Rail Partnership on Facebook.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria