Northern supports people with autism to build travel confidence

Northern has helped hundreds of people with autism to access the railway in the last year as part of a scheme with a West Yorkshire charity.

The train operator offers free travel on its network to users of the Leeds-based charity Specialist Autism Services (SAS), which worked with and for autistic adults to help them develop social, communication and independence skills.

Northern has been working with the charity since 2018, and the partnership has enabled service users across West Yorkshire to go on group trips such as sightseeing in Skipton and Saltaire, as well as individual trips for shopping, exercise, and social events.

Lucy Struthers, service manager at the Leeds branch of SAS, said: “Over the time we have worked with Northern, the partnership has enabled hundreds of journeys for our members and staff and has made a big difference to our members.

“Autistic individuals can struggle with social interaction, processing information, sensory difficulties, and high levels of anxiety. All these areas greatly affect their ability to understand, navigate and positively experience public transport because travel can create a host of challenges.

“However, using public transport is something which if positive, can be so instrumental in empowering individuals to develop social and sensory tolerance, increase opportunities, widen experiences, and build valuable independence skills, so these trips are hugely important for development and learning.”

Kerry Peters, Regional Director at Northern, said: “At Northern, the communities we serve are always at the heart of everything we do, and we are delighted to be able to champion SAS in this way, as well as highlight the fantastic work of the charity.

“We want to make our trains – and our wider network – as accessible as possible, and this is just one of the ways we are continuing to deliver a Northern that works for everyone and makes a positive difference.”

Find out more about how Northern supports the communities it serves here.