busA research project has been launched to explore how adults with learning disabilities use local bus services in Brighton and Hove. 

Dee MacDonald, research fellow in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Brighton, is working with staff and service users of Grace Eyre, a Sussex-based organisation supporting people with learning disabilities to make independent choices.

A service user who is confident using buses was previously recruited, Becky Ellis. McDonald supported Ellis to make a film about her bus use, within which she identifies the benefits and challenges she encounters.

Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach Company are supporting the research and have welcomed the film for raising important issues. It will be used in future staff training.

“The research links to similar work being carried out in Canada by McMaster University, where a film has been produced about adults with learning disabilities engagement with their local communities and associated benefits and challenges,” McDonald said.

McDonald and Ellis have also visited Canada to share their work and to identify common issues. Professor Ann Fudge Schormans from McMaster, and one of the research participants, will be making a reciprocal visit to Brighton. The two universities and the research participants have identified further research related to keeping safe in the city for which funding will be sought.

The film was shown at a recent event attended by the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Lynda Hyde. It also showcased the work of the Grace Eyre Travel Buddy project, a 3-year Big Lottery-funded travel training project which has supported more than 70 individuals to develop greater safety awareness in the community, build confidence in using public transport and develop skills needed to access the city of Brighton and Hove independently.

“Findings from the research on the use of buses for people with learning disabilities and the challenges they face, highlight the importance of innovative projects such as Travel Buddies,” McDonald said.

Brighton and Hove Buses accessibility and communities officer, Victoria Garcia, added: “We will continue to work with the university and Grace Eyre on future research as we are always looking for ways in which we can improve our accessible travel programme.”

For more information on the research go to: www.brighton.ac.uk/secp/research-projects/adults-with-learning-disabilities.aspx