An innovative information card scheme for vulnerable passengers using public transport has been rolled out across Leicestershire in a bid to tackle hate crime.
The Better Journey Cards, developed by First travel, aim to alert public transport workers to those who may need extra assistance when using public services. Launched last week by Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Lord Willy Bach, over 20,000 cards are set for distribution to police stations, councils and community events across the county.
The cards provide passengers with a range of messages relevant to their individual needs or disability, for example, asking drivers to alert them of their required stop or requesting help in taking a seat. There are also a number of blank cards, allowing users to write their own specific messages.
22,730 people living in Leicestershire are currently registered as disabled, 9,939 of whom live within the city. Whilst vital to the independence of many, research shows that public transport is also a high-risk area for incidents of hate crime.
Lord Bach said: “It is our duty to pull out all the stops to offer greater protection for vulnerable members of our community who face the indignity of physical or verbal abuse simply because of perceived differences.
“Public transport is a lifeline for so many disabled people living within Leicestershire and I’m determined that we offer them the very best support and protection to be able to continue their daily lives with confidence and self-esteem.”
Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director of First Leicester, said: “Our Better Journey Cards offer customers a way of discreetly communicating with our drivers. Quite often people want to ask for assistance, but they’re unsure how best to do it.
“While customers can, of course, just ask for any help they need, not everyone finds this easy, or is able to speak clearly. In these instances, these cards give people a way of asking for assistance in a simple, easy and discreet way.”
The Better Journey Cards are part of a wider range of measure funded by the PCC to provide more help to potential victims of hate crime and send out a message that intolerance and hatred are not welcome in society.
The scheme compliments the work of the Keep Safe Group which has distributed cards in a similar vein across Leicestershire containing emergency contact details, medication and additional information of vulnerable people should they wish to pass it on to public workers.
By Jennifer Morris