Working with Disability Groups

As part of Newcastle International's commitment to consult with local disability groups we have held an open day and have embarked in some new projects.

Activity in 2017

September 2017

Dementia Friends Cafe

This month we were lucky enough to be invited to a local Dementia Friends Café session in Kingston Park. This is somewhere that people living with dementia and their carers can get together once a month and share their experiences and get help and advice in a friendly, safe and supportive environment, over a cup of coffee and a biscuit. The session we attended is coordinated by Caroline Harding, a Dementia Support worker for Alzheimer’s Society UK, and her team of volunteers.

We were given the opportunity to explain the services that we can provide for passengers with Hidden Disabilities travelling through our airport and then got some extremely valuable feedback from the attendees about what issues they face and how we can try to help make travel through Newcastle Airport even more accessible to all users.

We were made to feel really welcome and we have invited some of the attendees to visit us at the airport in the coming weeks to further support our journey to becoming a Dementia Friendly community.

May/June 2017

Neuroendocrine Cancer Carcinoid Syndrome June 2017

Angie Williamson, a Neuroendocrine Specialist Nurse at the Freeman Hospital, contacted us recently to enquire about assistance available to patients in her care. We invited her into the airport to meet our team and discuss the work we have been doing recently around Hidden Disabilities.

Angie’s patients have a rare form of cancer and the main problem for them is chronic diarrhoea. As you can imagine, the thought of them flying can be a scary prospect. We were happy to have the opportunity to discuss the new ‘Hidden Disabilities Passport’ which we have introduced to enable passengers to get the support they need. The passport, as well as information about how to get assistance, is available in the Passenger Services section of our website.

Information about Neuroendocrine Cancer can be found on the NET Patient Foundation website and useful material about ‘Travelling and NETs’ can be found in their ‘Practical Issues’ booklet available here.

Alzheimer’s Society and Crohn’s & Colitis UK

On our journey to develop our airport as accessible to people with Hidden Disabilities, we have reached out to the Alzheimer’s Society and Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

Helen Terry – Director of Policy, Public Affairs & Research for Crohn’s & Colitis UK and Euan Macfarlane – IBD Parliamentary Intern, paid us a visit where we were able to gain an insight into the problems that people living with these conditions face and allowed us to develop a degree of understanding about why some people avoid travelling by air. We are excited to be working with them and by raising awareness amongst staff and making some changes to our physical environment; we hope to make air travel a less stressful experience for visitors to Newcastle Airport.

Download the Chrohns & Colitis UK travelling with IBD leaflet here.

Alzheimer's Society UK

Newcastle Airport has signed up to become a Dementia Friendly Community. (A Dementia Friendly Community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported and confident they can contribute to community life.) We have already met with Andrew Ball, Senior Dementia Friendly Communities Officer for Alzheimer’s Society UK, to set the ball rolling. Staff members have been watching videos from Alzheimer’s Society to understand how they can support people with Dementia within their job roles and raise awareness.

We are looking forward to meeting with people living with dementia, their carers and representatives from Alzheimer’s Society to get their input into what we are doing well and where we can continue to develop.

Download the Alzheimer's Society's Travelling and Going on Holiday with Dementia leaflet here.

It’s going to be a busy year in our commitment to become the UK’s friendliest airport and we hope to open up air travel to people with all different Hidden Disabilities and make them feel valued and welcome at Newcastle International Airport. Watch this space for updates.

Henshaws Society for Blind People

As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure the services we provide meet the needs of all visitors who require assistance, we invited a group with varying degrees of visual impairment from Henshaws Society for Blind People to visit the Airport.

We walked through the journey that they would take when travelling by air and discussed the difficulties that can be faced by people with sight loss. The group came up with some very interesting points and we are currently looking at how we can improve our physical environment to help alleviate some of these issues.

Percey Hedley Foundation

Once again we were pleased to welcome visitors from Percy Hedley Foundation to get some valuable feedback from a group of students with a variety of disabilities.

They noted the improvements made since the last group’s visit and came up with some areas that we can work on in future developments. We look forward to continuing communications and working closely with the staff and students to improve our Airport.

Activity in 2016

Percy Hedley Foundation

As part of our commitment to ensure the services we provide meet the needs of passengers who require assistance, we invited the Percy Hedley Foundation to the Airport.

Over 2 visits we have reviewed accessibility to the airport site and the services provided by our Passenger Services teams. This includes the access routes and assistance points from the car park, the check-in process, the security process and the boarding gates. The team looked at all areas, from way-finding to wheelchairs and boarding areas.

The Percy Hedley Foundation have returned and delivered their findings to the Airport management team. This was overall a positive session from the auditing team. Their report is currently being reviewed and we will be sharing this in early 2017 via our website. We have also teamed up with the group to deliver disability awareness training to all our security staff starting in January 2017.

PRM Consultation Meeting

  • Alzheimer’s society: Ann-Marie Bainbridge
  • Customer: Michael Liversedge
  • Customer: Barry Davison

A presentation was delivered by Newcastle Airport to the group which included the services provided, touch points and our performance as a PRM provider. Michael and Barry both use the service at Newcastle on a regular basis and have had both good and poor experiences over the many years they have travelled. We used their vast knowledge and experiences to review our processes and to see where we could improve for all customers. Both parties agreed that they are satisfied 99% of the time. Small changes in equipment which we are reviewing and sourcing on their behalf to try and improve this service and changes in operating procedures for existing equipment are being explored.

Michael has suggested we investigate other types of aisle transfer chairs for use on board of aircraft. We have acted upon his advice and have contacted various manufactures and are looking to add to our range of equipment during 2017.

Ann-Marie Bainbridge was invited to review our PRM service from the 'Hidden Disabilities' perspective. She had limited understanding of the operation but we have agreed to work together during early 2017 to see if we can expand our understanding and training of staff.

Autism awareness

To make the airport experience less of a struggle for children and adults with autism, NEAS is working with the Airport Passenger Services team to make sure they know where quiet spaces are within the airport so families can be helped to find a less noisy, less crowded area to wait.

Ground breaking steps also include the creation of an ‘Airport Autism Passport’ which is available to download from the airport or NEAS website, once completed and the passport should be brought to the Passenger Assistance Desk on arrival. This will then ensure a ‘fast track’ service for the family, avoiding queues and crowded areas, which can be distressing for people with autism. Families will then also have the choice to board the aeroplane first, or last, as transitioning from one place to another can be a particularly difficult time for people with autism.

NEAS is also working with the NIA team to create a ‘social story’ about the airport, so people with autism can familiarise themselves with the environment and what they can expect to happen, before they turn up on the day.

Consultative group meeting

In November 2015 we hosted an event for local disability groups and passengers who have had experience of using the service. The day was organised in order to give these groups the opportunity to visit the Airport and to experience and feedback on what we have to offer for disabled travellers.

Representatives:

  • Newcastle Disability forum-Pan disability group
  • Age Concern
  • A Passenger who had used the service.
  • Newcastle Airport Passenger Services Operations Manager

DNEX Event

In 2015 we worked closely with the Civil Aviation Autority and attended a disability event where we hosted a stand to promote the right to fly . The event allowed us to interact with local people directly and inform them of their rights and what services were available for them should they chose to fly in the future.