Kieran Lowery, a teenager with autism, was facing a daunting journey to college that involved taking two different busses, so Children North East’s Young People’s Service stepped up and got the teen on board with our Bus Buddies scheme.

Bus Buddies is a successful project pioneered by Children North East in the Gateshead area that has given 27 young people the skills and confidence to use public transport in order to get to school, college, work or access leisure activities.

Confidence building

Kieran was partnered with a Children North East support worker or ‘bus buddy’, who helped him feel confident about travelling the 12-mile round trip from his home in Sunniside to Hill Top Specialist Arts College.

Kieran and his bus buddy started off by travelling the whole journey together, then moved on to going on parts of the journey with him, until he felt comfortable doing the whole route by himself.

Kieran’s father, Wayne Lowery, said: “I’ve been really impressed with the Bus Buddies scheme. I thought Kieran might struggle to travel by himself, but he’s fine and that’s all down to his bus buddy, Rachel Wright, who worked with him over three months.”

Go North East to the rescue

The only trouble was that the travel was proving costly, until local award-winning bus company Go North East offered to give Kieran – and seven others on the Bus Buddies scheme – a free pass.

The move has saved Kieran’s family around £100 a month in bus fares.

Stephen King, Commercial Director at Go North East said: “We want all our passengers to have a happy and safe experience on the bus, so we’re really pleased to hear how  partnering with Children North East’s Bus Buddies scheme has allowed people like Kieran, to realise their independence."

Independent travel a reality

Sean Soulsby, Lead Practitioner at Children North East’s Young People’s Service added: “We’re very proud of our Bus Buddies project, supported by Gateshead Council and players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, which gives young people the chance to travel independently for the first time to and from school.

"It supports their independence, confidence and life skills and enables them to have greater choice and access around future college, employment, training and social opportunities.

“Sixty seven per cent of those on the Bus Buddies programme are now, like Kieran, successfully travelling to and from school. And even though, because of their disability, some have remained unable to make the two or three bus trips each way alone, one hundred per cent of those who have had a bus buddy report being more independent and confident as a result of that support.”

Find out more about our Bus Buddies scheme

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