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Grace Gurbutt, TITAN travel buddy

Grace recently delivered the TITAN Travel Buddy programme, which helps young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and vulnerable young adults to become confident, independent travellers. She used her previous experience of working for other charities and worked as a Travel Buddy, covering the Norwich area.

'When I thought about taking part in the TITAN Travel Buddy programme I was already volunteering for other charities, including Bliss, the UK charity for premature and sick babies. I worked on their helpline, which was a rewarding experience. But I wanted to move on to something that was more face-to-face. I had been interested in the whole aspect of special educational needs since working with Bliss, where of course for premature babies there are wide-reaching implications with regards to their educational development.

As a TITAN Travel Buddy I was responsible for the welfare of vulnerable young people, which made me appreciate the importance of communication. On any one day I could be speaking to members of the public, the young people I was training and also their parents, so I had to learn to be adaptable in terms of who I was communicating with.

I think resilience is so important in this role. I remember one young trainee I worked with was quite withdrawn and wasn't really interested in being trained for her journey to City College, Norwich at all. I realised it was going to be a long process to gain her trust so I decided to talk about topics that she was interested in. She loved anything to do with Disney so we agreed that if we did some training every day we could go into Norwich once in a while and look around the Disney store. After that compromise was made we ended up having a great working relationship.

Being flexible is also key if you are thinking of becoming a Travel Buddy. Sometimes things don't always go according to plan and you have to be able to think on your feet and move things around if need be. No two days are the same! You also have to show you are a trustworthy and approachable person. Focus on the positive aspects of the young person's abilities and try to make the whole process for him/her as positive as possible.'

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