Lottery windfall helps Norwood on its travels

Route to independence: Gregory Portnoi has undergone the training which other clients will now receive

Route to independence: Gregory Portnoi has undergone the training which other clients will now receive

A £235,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund will help Norwood clients with learning disabilities to become more independent travellers.

The money will fund almost the entire cost of Freedom through Travel, a three-year scheme launching in June, which will use smartphone technology to provide "travel training" for 88 adults.

It will enable the charity to employ two experienced travel trainers for a year, one based in London, the other at Ravenswood, Norwood's residential community in Berkshire. In the first year they will teach 16 adults the skills to travel independently on a regular journey, including road safety, use of public transport and what to do in case of problems.

They will also teach travel training techniques to 16 Norwood employees, who will in turn become accredited trainers.

Part of the grant will go towards smartphones with specialist travel training software, incorporating GPS tracking, which will alert staff if a user has veered off his normal route.

Residing in Norwood supported living accommodation in Muswell Hill, Gregory Portnoi, 63, has already undergone travel training through Norwood.

He can now make the return journey from Muswell Hill to Stanmore and feels "important and more able, like a grown up person. Before travel training I used to get taxis everywhere and I had to pay a lot of money.

"I am starting a new job soon and will learn the route to travel there."

Norwood head of adult learning disability services Angela Duce said: "Learning to travel safely is a vital life skill which most of us take for granted. However, for a person with a learning disability it can often be a significant obstacle on the road to independence, especially for those who want to enter work."

    Last updated: 1:58pm, April 7 2011