The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
— Michelangelo: 15th-16th century Italian sculptor, painter, and architect
While England remained in the world cup, public interest in the games peaked; even non football fans could be overheard speculating who would eventually win the World Cup. Once England exited, the excitement of the beautiful game had all but dwindled to only ardent football fans.
Special needs or accessible transport can be likened to having a team in the world cup, if your child or loved one, uses it, chances are you are going to be passionate about your transport provision. Up and down the country budget led transport reviews are being held. But is it simply a case of finding cheaper alternatives which can include no transport provision?
Stephen Hawking, probably the most famous living scientist is a British theoretical physicist and is physically disabled. Some of his greatest work was after he had lost the ability to write or speak without assistance. Enabling our passengers to reach their potential is what we do best and sometimes the results can be surprising.
As part of our service our staff are trained to interact with passengers appropriate to their disability and preference. We encourage passenger independence, even if it means we have to wait a bit longer for the passenger to board or do up their seatbelts etc. We also maintain journey logs to report any changes, good or challenging, within the transport. Some years ago we used to transport a very lively and cheeky teenaged girl with cerebral palsy. Her condition affected her mobility and speech but she liked talking and didn’t appreciate any of the team pretending they understood what she was trying to say when they didn’t, and she would let them know that in no uncertain terms!
Her parents work really hard to keep her looking quite trendy. One morning she was brought to the vehicle by a carer who explained that the parents have gone on a well deserved break. The carer seemed nice enough and the crew thought nothing of it further until they noticed she wasn’t talking. Initially they thought she was missing her parents but her withdrawal persisted even after the parents return. So the road crew in keeping with company procedure, reported the change in her behaviour to our Assessment Team.
An experienced assessor was placed on the route to assess the situation. Like the regular crew, she complimented her outfit, commending the care and effort she must have gone through to look so well put together. The teen then confided that she had a crush on a boy in her class and to her disappointment he is not noticing her! Of course we were relieved but it clearly it was something she was concerned about and it affected her confidence and mood.
It could have been quite easy to disregard the matter as trivial, but in our pursuit of the best for our service users, we treated her concern with the dignity and respect it deserved. We shared our observation with her parents who were simply thrilled that their daughter was experiencing another normal milestone in an extraordinary life. Soon she was back to her talkative self in the transport. Vehicular solutions are only part of Excel’s transport provision. As an organisation we continually strive to raise our service standards and pioneer cost effective approaches that encourages our clients and passengers to derive the best from using our service.
In austere times, cutbacks are necessary however, difficult times must not cause us to set our expectations so low that it hinders us from achieving our best. So, let’s keep interested in what is happening for people who rely on local authority provisions and not exit from the process simply because we feel we do not have a vested interest. There is still so much more, as those who continued to watch the football after England’s departure came to appreciate.