First Midland Bluebird bus drivers in Falkirk recently had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges their customers overcome each day by undertaking sensory awareness training with Forth Valley Sensory Centre.
The aim was to supplement existing training by giving drivers the chance to experience what it is like to board a bus with hearing or sight loss. The event was a huge success with many drivers taken aback by just how difficult it can be for people who have a sensory loss to use public transport.
Larbert Deport Operations Manager, Jason Hackett said:
“This was an exercise all about raising awareness amongst our drivers and ensuring we provide the best possible service to our customers. It was heartening to see so many drivers take part and it is something we will certainly look to repeat. Already we are making plans for our in-house training manager to take part in a much longer session on sensory loss so we can provide more support to our drivers and as a result, our customers.”
One driver who came along found her BSL skills tested when she met a number of Deaf people from the Centre.
Rebecca Notley, Driver with First Midland Bluebird commented:
“It’s good to understand the point of view of people with sensory issues and it was great to try out some of the audio and visual aids here today. I also enjoyed having a conversation with people from the centre who are deaf and hearing impaired.
“My mum took a job at Windsor Park School for deaf people and we both learned sign language, so it’s become force of habit to have conversations by signing.
“I like to use it at work when I get a chance. Some deaf people might bring a note on a bus so you sometimes don’t get a chance to assist them as much as you might like but I’m glad to be able to help in any way I can.
“Even learning a few things in sign language can be so valuable and I would encourage everyone to do it.”
Organised by Forth Valley Sensory Centre and the First Midland Bluebird team from the nearby depot in Larbert, a stand at Falkirk Bus Station was closed off to allow drivers to come along on their break and learn about sensory loss.
Centre Manager Jacquie Winning said:
“I think our Centre Users who volunteered on the day found it as interesting as the drivers. It is great to see the engagement from First Midland Bluebird and their efforts to make their services as accessible as possible. We would love to hear from more companies and organisations across Forth Valley interested in improving their understanding of sensory loss.”
Drivers were asked to board buses using special ‘simulation glasses’ to replicate different eye conditions and sight loss. They were also given headphones from Silent Knights, to reduce their hearing and allow them to try to lip read “deaf” customers. The training was supported by a number of Centre Users who are regular customers on the buses.
We regularly recieve updates on the latest telephone scams from Forth Valley Police and their community officers. The information below is based on reports to the Police and are active scams in our area, right now.
Do share the information with friends and colleagues and especially any vulnerable people you might know so they can avoid being conned by these heartless people.
Bogus caller Incidents: 31st October- 30th November 2017
Over the past month the incidents of note involving Bogus Caller activity followed the regular pattern of phone and computer based incidents.
1) Phone Scams: The victim are being contacted by the scammers claiming to be from their bank and advising of unusual activity on their bank account. The scammer will then request that monies are moved to separate accounts for security purposes.
I have just had a call alerting me to a new scam, please pass on to clients and families as appropriate. They call you up (from a local number) and say they are from BT Protect. This is a legitimate service, so gives it some validity. They asked the lady to spell her name which she did, then said from tomorrow they would guarantee no scam/nuisance calls came into her, but then asked her to spell her name as on her Bank Card. That immediately set alarm bells ringing and she told him he was a scammer which he said he was not. Anyway she hung up and called BT – who let her know what the scammers are doing now is to rent phone numbers, so when it looks like a local number people are more likely to answer.
2) Computer Scams: Victims are advised by phone that there is an issue with the malware on their system which is effecting the computer and could potentially have a virus within, however for a fee the malware will be sorted.
3) Supermarket Vouchers: A scam involving “Free” vouchers to the value of £250 being promoted on Whats App for Morrisons / Tesco / Asda and Aldi. To access the “Free” vouchers you have to complete a survey monkey on which certain personal details are required. There are no “Free” vouchers and you will have unfortunately parted with your personal information. The websites used are very similar to the above named supermarkets with only very slight modifications to the spellings (ie small dot below the C in Tesco) etc
**Please be advised that no financial establishments (Banks / building societies etc), Government Departments or the Police will ever ask for you to disclose your personal banking details in this manner**
Report any suspicious activity to Forth Valley Police on 101 and if you are concerned at all by any potential transaction, online or over the phone then give yourself time to double check it before handing over any details.
Officer Bryan Mackie
The annual Winter Fair at the Centre raised over £2000 for our charity! Funds came via a raffle, tombola and stalls as well as through donations on the day.
More funds are still due in with the raffle not scheduled to be drawn until 15th December and knitted items left over from the event still being snapped up by those unable to attend on the day.
Centre Manager Jacquie Winning said:
“What an amazing result and turn out. Thank you to everyone who came along and supported us, including the stall holders, our staff and volunteers. The support from local businesses was also very much appreciated and really helped boost our total with fantastic raffle prizes as well as gifts for kids and a super stocked Café.
The Centre Café did a roaring trade in homemade soup and stovies, cooked by the Centre’s own David Black as well as delicious steak burgers courtesy of Malcolm Allan Family Butchers based in nearby Larbert. There were also sweet treats from Scotland’s own Tunnocks and a huge amount of delicious home baking from various Centre Users and volunteers.
There were lots of activities for children too with a treasure hunt, slime making and face painting. Santa was in residence in the Sensory Room and was happy to hand out selection boxes from his friends at Morrisons and Tesco. The event was also supported by Falkirk Rotary and Falkirk Delivers.
Winter Fair stalls included Baby Gifts with Amelia, Bonello Chocolatier, Christmas Gifts by Mary, Clan Artisan Jams and Chutneys, Forever Living with Mhairi, Partylite Candles with Fiona, Scentsy with Cazzie and Wild Sister Rising; fabulous Bath Bombs by Lissa Orr who made an additional £50 donation to the Centre.
All the stall holders provided a raffle prize and additional prizes have been donated by: John McNally MP, Kiran’s Trust, The Royal Oak at Alloa, The Coppertop Restaurant, Base Muay Thai Gym, Salon Ian, Nandos, Jack Wills, The Wheatsheaf Falkirk, Slimming World, Probowl Camelon, Falkirk Golf Club, Hogan’s Fine Foods, Mannerstons, Grangemouth Rotary, Sainsbury’s and our own Stirling Blind and Partially Sighted Group. The Stirling Group also ran their ever popular bottle stall which netted over £400!
Martin Allen, Partnership Manager added:
“Thanks to all the businesses who helped out this year and the volunteers from DWP who came in to ‘deck the halls’ with Christmas trimmings prior to the event and Lightways for making a big difference to our sensory garden with free festive lighting. Fundraising at the Centre is a year round activity as with many charities. We’d love to hear from more local firms and look at ways we can work together. Individual donors and fundraisers are always welcome too so if you are thinking of running a marathon in 2018 why not do it for the Centre?”
Pupils at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Bo’ness were given sensory training this week thanks to Forth Valley Sensory Centre. The children, in Primary One to Seven, learned about sign language and different types of sight loss thanks to volunteers John and Ann.
A variety of different activities took place to help the children from St Mary’s understand more about what sight loss might mean and some of the innovative ways that D/deaf and blind or partially sighted people use technology and other equipment to compensate for their sensory loss.
The children were full of questions, including some very insightful ones asking “What do you miss most about not being able to see?” and “Do you get angry?”. Other questions included if it hurt being blind, how to get in bed, how to cook, how to get on trains, how to clean your teeth and brush your hair and “What’s your favourite Pokemon?”
The last question was sadly unanswered but John and Ann were very open and honest with the children confessing that not being able to see did make them angry and while it doesn’t hurt physically, it can in other ways.
Partnership Manager Martin Allen said:
“It was great to be invited along to the school to help the children build on what they had been learning for the recent anti-bullying week and also about the senses in science. We try to educate as many people as possible about the difficulties people with sensory loss face because if we increase understanding we can decrease stigma and bullying.
“We’d be happy to hear from other local schools and community groups and discuss how we might be able to help.”
Pupils were able to try out a guide cane with Ann, a Bo’ness resident herself who has retinitis pigmentosa. Ann is a member of our Bo’ness outreach group which meets on the last Tuesday of each month for a range of different trips and outings. They are always happy the hear from potential new members and anyone interested should contact Brenda at the Centre. For more on our activities and groups, please see our What’s On page.
Other items which astounded the children included a spill resistant mug, a electronic colour speaking device which can tell you what colour your clothes are and a “What’s in the box” game where children had to retrive different fruits based on their sense of touch.
First Bus drivers in Falkirk will be getting up to speed with sensory loss on November 30th as local deaf and blind people help them understand what it is like to use public transport without being able to see or hear properly.
Organised by Forth Valley Sensory Centre and the First Midland Bluebird team from the nearby depot in Larbert, a stand at Falkirk Bus Station is to be closed off between 10am and 12pm so that drivers can come along and experience sensory loss for themselves.
Centre Manager Jacquie Winning said:
“Many of our Centre Users are public transport users and they rely heavily on bus services to get around town, do shopping, meet friends and family or simply visit our Centre each week so making sure they have the best possible journey is really important to them, us and First Midland Bluebird.
“Things have moved on a lot in the last few years and buses have become much more accessible. Things are still not perfect though and it is great the First Midland Bluebird is continuing to educate and train staff to make sure all communities in the area receive the same high standard of service.”
Drivers will be asked to board buses using special ‘simulation glasses’ to replicate different eye conditions and sight loss. They will also be given headphones from Silent Knights, to reduce their hearing and allow them to try to lip read “deaf” customers.
The training is being supported by a number of Centre Users who are regular customers on the buses.
Larbert Deport Operations Manager, Jason Hackett said:
“First Midland Bluebird is always looking for new ways to improve services and make sure our drivers have the best possible training.
“We have a number of things in place already to assist disabled customers, whether they have a sensory loss or not, however, there is no such thing as being too prepared and experiences like this really help people understand just how much more difficult it can be to do things others take for granted. Boarding a bus is a good example of this and we want to ensure our drivers do everything necessary to assist customers and make their journey as easy as possible, by following just a few simple steps.”
It is hoped all drivers will benefit from the training. Members of the public are also invited to find out more about the First Bus Safe Journey Card and what is on offer at Forth Valley Sensory Centre for people with sensory loss as well as their carers, friends and families.
Tags: blind, buses, Corporate Social Responsibility, deaf, disabled, Falkirk, First Bus, First Midland Bluebird, Forth Valley Sensory Centre, Forth Valley Sensory Centre Falkirk, help, partnership, public transport, sensory awareness, Sensory Centre Camelon, Sensory Centre Falkirk, support, training, transport, travel