Worthing man with autism helps Govia Thameslink Railway develop easy guides to train travel
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Josh Puglia, 30, from Goring finds travelling by train gives him independence but it can be challenging for him at times and his experience has helped GTR develop guides giving practical advice for people travelling with Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express.
Passengers can download the Easy Ticket Guide, as well as an Easy Train Travel Guide, from the Assisted Travel > Support While You're Travelling pages on the company websites.
Josh said: “I can’t drive because I have autism, so being able to travel by train is so important to me – it gives me independence to travel to Brighton to the charity Grace Eyre, which gives me and others with autism and learning disabilities support and where I’m an ambassador trustee.
“But it’s really challenging. If it’s really busy and there’s a queue behind me at the ticket office or it’s noisy then it makes me really anxious and I can feel overwhelmed. This guide will help others with autism see how they too can buy tickets and travel by train."
The Easy Ticket Guide was launched earlier this year during World Autism Acceptance Week, which Josh hoped would help people to understand his autism and give him the space that he sometimes needs.
The idea came about after Josh joined the Access Advisory Panel, a group of disabled volunteers who use GTR services and give the company practical advice on making improvements.
Antony Merlyn, accessibility engagement manager, explained: “The idea to produce the Easy Ticket Guide came when I first spoke to Josh after he joined our panel. Together, we discussed how buying tickets can create anxiety and potentially present a barrier to travel for many disabled customers – not just those with autism.
"It’s all about removing barriers to travel. This can take all shapes and sizes – it’s not just about doing big things like installing lifts. This guide is a very simple idea which tackles a very real potential source of anxiety.”
The Easy Train Travel Guide followed, helping people to plan their journey and know where to go if they need help.