Bristol Airport introduces assistance card to help passengers with hidden disabilities

Bristol Airport has announced the introduction of a hidden disabilities assistance card as part of its efforts to improve the airport and travel experience of passengers with hidden disabilities.

Designed to be the size of a business card, the hidden disabilities assistance card serves as a discreet sign to airport staff to identify passengers in need of support and assistance as they travel through the airport. The card can be handed discreetly to airport staff along with the passenger’s boarding pass or passport.

The special assistance card, which will be introduced by March-end, advises airport staff on any additional needs of a passenger, such as needing more time to process information, or extra assistance in reading departure boards or flight information. The card also encourages airport staff to use clear language when giving instructions. Airport staff are also informed that passengers carrying a card may need to remain with a family member or companion at all times.

Bristol Airport has worked with OCS Group, the special assistance provider at the airport, and local Dementia, Autism and Alzheimer charities in developing the card in addition to the lanyard scheme. The OCS Group also worked with Thumbs Up World Limited to produce a small colour booklet containing useful information for passengers with hidden disabilities using Bristol Airport. The booklet provides a clear guide on what to expect at the airport with photographs of each area including check-in, security, retail and catering outlets, boarding, arrivals and baggage reclaim. The booklet also contains space for passengers to record their own specific needs or any questions they may have along with emergency medical and contact information.

Phil Holder, Bristol Airport, said: ‘We are delighted to work with OCS and listen to feedback from families and various charities in the development of the hidden disabilities special assistance card. For families it will remove and reduce some of the stress knowing that staff are aware and understand the challenges they may face.

‘The booklet will also be a great help to families and provides information in advance of their visit and allows the family to complete the booklet together not only before they visit, but during their time at the Airport also.’

All airport staff in customer-interface roles have been given a full training and awareness programme in preparation for the introduction of these new initiatives on March 31, 2017.

The hidden disabilities assistance card, lanyard or booklet are available on request at the OCS special assistance desk in the main terminal prior to check-in, the airport said.

Heathrow offers £25k for flood-stricken community groups

Heathrow Community Fund (HCF), a grant-making charity funded by Heathrow Airport, is offering £25,000 to help community groups recover from damage caused by local flooding.

The Fund aims to help voluntary organisations with donations towards the costs of replacing vital equipment damaged in the storms, especially where there is no help available from insurance or statutory funding. It could be damaged IT equipment, flooded community gardens or allotments, or furniture at a local community hall or youth group.

Caroline Nicholls, fund director, said, ‘Heathrow Community Fund has helped many local community groups with grants, donating GBP500,000 last year alone. We’re now concerned that so much of their good work will be destroyed by the floods. When the waters have subsided and these groups are counting the cost of the damage, Heathrow Community Fund may be able to help with a donation towards the expense.’

Organisations can apply for help through the fund’s Communities Together grant stream, with application forms available on the website www.heathrow.com/communityfund and other supporting documents.

Heathrow Community Fund offers its grants through three distinct streams: Communities for Youth, Communities for Tomorrow and the Communities Together scheme.

Communities for Youth offers grants for local groups including charities, voluntary groups and schools delivering projects related to education and economic regeneration. Communities for Tomorrow is intended to benefit communities affected by Heathrow’s operations, with grants focused on projects that help protect the environment or encourage sustainable development. The Communities Together scheme supports a wider range of smaller, community focused projects.

Heathrow Community Fund itself is funded by three sources – fines imposed on aircraft that breach noise limits, an annual donation from Heathrow and spare change from airport passengers.

Remote Rescue for Risk Takers

Cliff divers, jungle trekkers and shark swimmers no longer need to fear for their safety when participating in deliciously adventurous activities abroad – thanks to the new ‘Skyguard’. The masses of British thrill seekers can now purchase the ‘Skyguard International System’; a small, yet ingenious device the size of a tiny key-fob, which enables trippers to summon help at a mere click of a button.
Whether you are having your own traumatic ‘Jaws’ moment or find yourself in a horribly reminiscent situation not so dissimilar from ‘147 Hours’ where by you have your arm wedged between a boulder and a rock-wall, all you need to do is activate your Skyguard key to send for help.
The first personal emergency service offers exclusivity for all British travellers and is the smallest GPS alarm of its kind. In terms of practicality, is excels; allowing tourists to click the device onto their rucksack whilst abseiling down a mountain or to hook onto their wet-suit whilst diving among exotic creatures in the ocean.
The service is rapidly growing across the globe and is already working across 34 European countries, the Russian Federation and South Africa. The device alerts a valiant rescue team as your location can be pin pointed within minutes, thanks to the technologically acclaimed tracking device embedded in the key. A godsend no doubt, for those whose fishing boat has crashed and don’t really want to replicate scenes from Castaway. So you needn’t worry about living off coconuts and catching fish for the remainder of your life.
The golden little gadget is an advisable investment for those who travel frequently to partake in adrenaline pumping activities abroad, for a not so unattractive price tag of £29.95 a month. So by all means, go white water rafting or rock climbing in the middle of no-where- just don’t pick up your car keys instead…

Article by Emma Boyle