On Tuesday, I was due to attend a conference just outside of Manchester. Travelling on my own is extremely difficult for me but I have been through Manchester many times before and this was only a bit further.
But just as we were pulling into one train station, there was an announcement that my train had been cancelled so we needed to get off the train.
The only advice given was to go to the Metrolink (Tram). I have no idea how to use a tram and there was no other advice given. So, I was left in a crowd of around 200 people trying to work out what to do.
I tried to get help from staff at the train station, but this got me nowhere. They couldn’t help me understand about using the tram or what I needed to do.
Eventually I ended up being unable to speak and just stood there shaking but no support was offered. I was wearing my sunflower lanyard, but it was clear these staff had no idea what it meant.
At one point, I ended up having to go for a walk in the rain to find somewhere to get a drink, just to try and regulate myself. Being in the train station without any support just wasn’t helping.
In the end, I had to make the decision that I was too unwell to continue my journey to the conference and took this picture as I was waiting to come home. The anxiety of trying to continue with a now unplanned journey, turning up over 2 hours late to the conference and knowing I would spend the whole time thinking about having to get home was just too much. I took my own advice and listened to what my body needed which was to come home.
Just some basic access support would have made this experience so much better.
Rather than just saying ‘Go use the Metrolink’, and assuming we all knew what that meant, give guidance or explain where we could have got help from as I was not the only one confused,
Staff need training on what the sunflower lanyard means so that more appropriate support can be provided,
Alternative transport needs to be provided and more information on how to access this,
Better communication in general from all staff both on the train and in the station.