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21 Oct 2019

Southeastern is the first UK train operator to run dual trial of 'hidden disability' awareness schemes

Southeastern is the first UK train operator to run dual trial of 'hidden disability' awareness schemes: jam-card-image

  • Southeastern are rolling out trial schemes of the JAM card and Sunflower Lanyard in a joint approach
  • Southeastern Area Manager, Natalie Leister, has stepped forward to be the lead ally on a push for greater awareness of  hidden disabilities, Autism and Learning difficulties amongst Southeastern employees and Kent rail passengers – leading the debate with her first-hand experience of being the parent of a child with autism
  • Southeastern, which runs train services into London from Kent and East Sussex, today launched a trial of two schemes to raise awareness of, and assist passengers with, “hidden disabilities”, including autism and Learning difficulties.


Southeastern, which runs train services into London from Kent and East Sussex, today launched a pilot scheme for two initiatives that, in a joint effort, aim to generate increased awareness of the best way to support independent travel for passengers with hidden disabilities, autism and learning difficulties.

As part of wider measures being rolled out across its extensive train network, Southeastern has launched a trial of both the JAM card and Sunflower Lanyard scheme, to support passengers who require more time or assistance when travelling across services, running on the Tonbridge to Hastings route.

If successful, the schemes will be rolled out more widely across the 176 stations, covering 540-miles of railway network, which Southeastern operates.

The ‘Just A Minute’ or ‘JAM’ card can be specifically used by passengers with a learning difficulty, autism, or by those who simply find difficulty in communicating. It enables a user of the card to inform a member of staff in a discreet manner that they might need a bit more time and support. The JAM cards be obtained through a Southeastern ticket office on the Tonbridge to Hastings route.

Similarly, to cater to a wider range of passengers travelling with hidden disabilities –the Sunflower Lanyard is made to be worn when the person who has a hidden disability (like dementia, anxiety, chronic fatigue or indeed autism), feel they need Southeastern employees to be aware they may need extra help when their condition may not be obvious.  There is no qualifying list of conditions these initiatives apply to and being able to access a lanyard or JAM card.

Alongside both schemes, Southeastern has hosted a series of internal training sessions for all staff who will be working directly with members of the public; whether this be in knowing how to effectively assist a passenger travelling with Dementia or understanding the best way to approach, connect with and support passengers, who have a hidden disability.

Tonbridge Area Manager, Natalie Leister, is working with Southeastern’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager, Justin Ryan, to lead the push for greater awareness of many of these conditions. Natalie has a very personal link to the initiative and has taken an open stance on her desire to inform and influence change, driven by her experiences with her son, who was this year diagnosed with Autism.

Natalie Leister, Southeastern Area Manager has said: “When the consultant discussed my son’s diagnosis I'll be completely honest, I cried. I don't know why, it was a mixture of relief but also fear – I instantly worried about what was going to happen next.

“When it came to work, his diagnosis made me question the way we look at things as employees at Southeastern. A school boy with autism could quite easily be misunderstood by staff who are unaware of certain behaviours. By providing all staff on the Tonbridge to Hastings route with additional training, and by having “champions”, we can ensure they are knowledgeable and aware to hidden disabilities. I’m hoping that the trial will be a huge success and we can then roll it out across the network,”

Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Accessibility in the Department for Transport, has said: “All passengers should have equal access to our rail network, and should be able to travel confidently, easily and with no extra cost. That’s why we are committed to ensuring support is on hand for those passengers who have additional needs, and I welcome these latest initiatives that will help make the rail network more accessible for those with hidden disabilities.”

Southeastern will be launching the trial of the JAM Card and Sunflower Lanyard, on October 16th.


Contact information

Emma Owen

Notes to editors

If you would be interested in speaking further with Natalie on the initiative, we would be more than happy to set up an interview.


Contact information

Els Baker

Notes to editors

For further information contact:

Southeastern Press Office

Ph: 02079323629


About Southeastern:

Southeastern runs train services into London from Kent and East Sussex, operating over 2000 trains a day, carrying more than 640,000 passengers a day, serving 176 stations and covering 540-miles of railway infrastructure.

Southeastern is owned by Govia, a joint venture between the Go-Ahead Group (65 per cent) and Keolis (35 per cent). Govia is the most enduring partnership between transport operators delivering rail franchises in this country.

It is the UK’s busiest rail operator, responsible for 28.7 per cent of UK passenger rail journeys through its four rail companies, Southern, Southeastern, Govia Thameslink Railway and London Midland. Further information on Govia is available at: Go-Ahead Group plc is one of the UK's leading providers of passenger transport services operating in the bus, rail and aviation services sectors.

Keolis is a French-based operator of transport services in 13 countries worldwide and is owned by SNCF, AXA Private Equity, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and Keolis management.



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