Members of the group got onboard for the hour-long journey from Milford Haven to Carmarthen to test some of the assisted travel services available to people with sight loss and other disabilities when travelling on Transport for Wales’ trains.
The group was accompanied by Geraint Morgan, community affairs manager at Transport for Wales. Geraint recently visited the group at one of its monthly meetings to talk to its members about the support on offer to anyone using the train who has a visual impairment. He also invited the group to come and try it out for themselves.
The trip was one of many events taking place throughout the UK as part of Macular Week, which runs from 24-30 June. Now in its fifth year, Macular Week is organised by the Macular Society to raise awareness of macular disease. This year, the Society is highlighting the importance of research funding to find a cure.
Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.
Madeline Roberts, leader of the Milford Haven Macular Society Support Group, said: “When Geraint asked us if we’d like to see how the assisted travel service works, we thought it was a great idea.
“I travel by train a lot myself, but many of our group don’t use it regularly or haven’t travelled by rail for a long time. For some of them, it’s simply because they just haven’t felt confident enough to do it. But there’s so much help and assistance available if you need it and nothing is too much trouble for the staff.
“It was also great that we could do this during Macular Week and use the opportunity to raise awareness of macular disease and spread the word to as many people while we were out and about.”
Geraint Morgan, community affairs manager at Transport for Wales, said: “For many people with sight loss, public transport is an important means of being able to travel – for work, for leisure or meeting family and friends. The objective of our assisted travel talks and familiarisation trips is to help raise awareness of the assistance that can be provided when travelling by train.”
He continued; “The familiarisation trips offer an opportunity for people to experience a journey by train with the aim of giving everybody the knowledge and confidence to travel again in the future.”
For more information about assisted travel services available from Transport for Wales, please visit: https://tfwrail.wales/accessible-travel/booking-assistance
The Milford Haven Macular Society Support Group meets on the first Thursday of the month, from 2-4pm, at Milford Haven Library & Information Centre, Cedar Court, Havens Head Business Park, Milford Haven SA73 3LS.
For more information about the group, please contact Adele Francis, Macular Society regional manager, on 01639 843236 / 07494 468007, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on macular disease, call the Macular Society on 0300 3030 111 or email email@example.com