So today I thought I would write about my experience of going back to work. I am anxious and quite scared about public transport and I work in quite
a busy environment. In order to get to work I need to get a bus and then a train. It can take me an 1 hour an 45 minutes to get to work.
Work closer to home I hear some of you saying? Thats neither here nor there right now.
I have been working to build more independence around travel as well as other areas and today with the help of the same person, who works with visually impaired and blind people we decided to test out the route I would normally do on my way to and from work.
My mum dropped me off in town so I did not need to worry about the bus and then we met up by the interchange. It was about 9:30 and we had arranged to meet at that time. We had just missed the train. So we went and asked them about help with getting on and off the train. Normally I just get on with the pushing and shoving because I want to be as independent as possible, and yes I realise I need to change this attitude.
We went into the information centre upstairs and when you go in through the doors you are greeted by a mess of stanchions which did not help. I asked if I could follow the person I was with as he was wearing a bright blue coat so I just focussed on him. We went and asked the man in the ticket office who was very helpful. When we asked about getting on the train with assistance they were more than happy to get me on the train should I ask for help. One tick in the box for ensuring I can get on the train, I just need to do in practice now. But I feel reassured.
We decided to walk to Forster Square because the next train from Bradford Interchange was in an hour and that was not going to work. We walked across town, not too far, and I was thankful I’d taken painkillers before I left home. When we arrived we went to buy tickets and I forgot what kind of ticket we wanted. When there’s a lot going on I become very overwhelmed. I was thankful it wasn’t busy so I did not need to rush.
After we purchased our tickets we went through the barrier and we were told it was the train on the left. Getting on the train was difficult as I have not been on a train in 3 months. The person I was with is called Simon, and he advised me that the carriage to the right was cordoned off and I could not sit there. He also explained that as this is the first carriage, that I was not able to sit in the end part where the door to the drivers compartment is. So we turned left. The seating on the train is all blue, with yellow and blue signs put over the top of the seats saying they are
out of use. This included the disabled seats which you normally come to first. I can’t explain the layout fully as I was trying to deal with a lot of visual information at once.
If there are seats of two on either side, only one person can sit in that set of two. There is then another row in front
which is completely out of use. The next row of seats are for a group of four people, where again only one person may sit. Simon asked where I wanted to sit and
described to me where that seat was. I went and sat down and he then sat on the opposite side of the train.
Once we had pulled into Leeds we go off the train and I thanked another passenger who asked if I needed help. This was great because its nice to know people are still willing to assist. We got off and Simon explained the things to be weary of that had changed, for example: there is now a yellow strip of tape along the floor which advises you to not go beyond that line until the train arrives. As we walked forward a man in a high vis jacket approached us and asked us to keep to the left, and would we need any assistance. He offered to show us the new layout of the station.
We said yes. At this point for any of you familiar with Leeds station we pulled in on platform 8. We were advised to keep to the left at all times, so that meant walking under the escalators, where the lifts are located behind you under the concourse. He then pointed out that there was a big silver barrier running from the ticket gates across to the escalators going up. The escalator going up is currently out of use. You then walk through the barriers and there is no more one way system. Just blue stickers on the floor in rows.
If you’re looking back at the entrance to the ticket barriers you will see red for no entry and green for entry. Entry to the platforms is on the left and entry out from the platforms is on the right.
If you are going back to the ticket barriers in the middle they have a silver barricade to keep people from going the wrong way. They also have some staff stood behind screens to help you get through the barriers should you need it.
(I did not notice this on the end barriers where the disabled barriers are- give me a moment I will move onto this.)
Once you have moved through the barriers as though you are going to get the train, turn left and move past the information point (which is currently closed- don’t worry I’ll move onto this) and turn left again as though your going down the platform towards platform number nine. There are steps at the end to the bridge which runs right across to platform 16. These steps are then all one way which is perfect because no one is rushing down at you. Once you’re down the steps you then walk back along to where you need to be. It does add time to your journey, however because it is all one way you don’t need to worry about people walking towards you and not moving out your way.
Now, back to the information point and the disabled access barriers being closed. I asked where I could go to get help should I need it. I suggested the information point in the middle of the new atrium. However this is also closed. I was advised to look for Northern staff in blue, or people wearing yellow high vis jackets, I could also ask LNER in red, they could always get me the help I need as they’ve been great in the past. The staff are dotted around, I noticed they were by the entrances into and out of the station on the left and right. They were also stood in a group up by the barriers where the barricade is positioned in the middle. So I can just look for a cluster of yellow. When you pass through the barriers there are more yellow high vis jackets as well. They are stood right in the middle.
I feel a little easier knowing I’ve gone back into Leeds on the train for the first time in three months. But I did have Simon with me, who was a massive help. I know going in on my own will be quite different. But I will try it and see what happens.
I’m feeling quite drained now and I have my bath running so I will go and check on that.
If you have any questions around how you can make life easier for disabled people like myself in these extraordinary times then please just ask. The important thing to remember is, we don’t expect you to have all the answers, because we don’t either. We just don’t want to be an after thought. We need to be included in the process from the beginning to ensure our access needs are met.
Philippa B 🙂