As part of Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership’s ongoing partnership with Acorn Village at Mistley a centre for people with learning disabilities including those of the severe end of the autistic spectrum.

The purpose of try a ‘train for the day’ is to give the residents the confidence and ability to travel safely by train.

Lynda and Terri CRP officers, met with the residents and staff at Acorn Village where everyone was given a training pack which we talked through with them explaining how to be safe at the station and when travelling on the train.

At Manningtree station each resident received training on how to use the ticket machine. They then had to familiarise themselves with the station and identify key items and locations from their pack eg yellow lines along the platform, clock, way out signs and the lift. An important part of the training was how to recognise members of Greater Anglia’s staff and the use of the Help Points which are located on all stations. We then all boarded the train to Harwich Town to experience a train journey. Once there we all enjoyed a lunch and talked about the day’s events before returning to the station to catch the train back to Manningtree.

Each resident was then awarded a Certificate of Achievement for completing ticket training and how to travel safely on the railway.

Comments from the day included “it was easier than I thought, not so scary", “I feel more confident in using the train and buying tickets from the machine”, I feel better knowing what to do if there are no staff available” and “it was a great day.”

ESSCRP will continue to work closely with Acorn Village in delivering a rolling programme of rail safety and try a train days. Our work with them also includes art projects the current one being designing and making a mural to be displayed in the underpass at Manningtree Station.

Further information about Acorn village can be found at www.acornvillages.com

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