Autism Bedfordshire celebrates new partnership with Luton Airport Parkway station

Fifty adults in Bedfordshire with autism will be getting involved in activities at Luton Airport Parkway station thanks to a new partnership with Thameslink.

Autism Bedfordshire has become an official station partner of Luton Airport Parkway, the new partnership will see the autistic adults meet station manager, Joe Healy, and go behind the scenes at the station to get an insight into operations and learn about staff roles.

L-R: GTR's Community Engagement Officer Andrew Chillingsworth, Autism Bedfordshires Adult Services Manager Sharna Raine, Station Manager Joe Healy and Community Rail Partnership Officer Andy Buckley at Luton Airport Parkway Station

L-R: GTR's Community Engagement Officer Andrew Chillingsworth, Autism Bedfordshires Adult Services Manager Sharna Raine, Station Manager Joe Healy and Community Rail Partnership Officer Andy Buckley at Luton Airport Parkway Station

They will also take part in ‘Try a Train’ days, giving them the opportunity to learn about rail safety and train travel, and they will work alongside an art therapist to create a mosaic for the London-bound platform 1 and look after the floral displays at the front of the station.

Luton Airport Parkway and Harpenden station manager Joe, who hopes to offer some of the adults work experience, said: “We’re very excited to welcome Autism Bedfordshire on board as an official station partner, and look forward to working with the group on various projects to enhance the station environment.

"Stations are at the heart of communities and it’s wonderful to have community involvement.”

During Autism Awareness Week (March 30 - April 5), the adults will hold a bake sale for rail users to raise money for Autism Bedfordshire, the charity is dedicated to improving the lives of autistic people and their families across Bedfordshire.

L-R: GTR's Community Engagement Officer Andrew Chillingsworth, Autism Bedfordshires Adult Services Manager Sharna Raine, Station Manager Joe Healy and Community Rail Partnership Officer Andy Buckley at Luton Airport Parkway Station

L-R: GTR's Community Engagement Officer Andrew Chillingsworth, Autism Bedfordshires Adult Services Manager Sharna Raine, Station Manager Joe Healy and Community Rail Partnership Officer Andy Buckley at Luton Airport Parkway Station

Autism Bedfordshire’s Adult Services manager Sharna Raine said: “We’re so excited to be working with Thameslink and Joe. Not only will this partnership really help everyone in the local community understand the autistic community, it will also help our members feel part of the community and feel valued.

"More often than not, they don’t feel part of the community and don’t feel they fit in, but this is an opportunity to show everyone what they can do.”

The new partnership has been facilitated by the Bedford to St Albans City Community Rail Partnership. CRP Officer Andy Buckley said: “We’re delighted to welcome Autism Bedfordshire to the Community Rail Partnership.

"This is the second partnership to be established on the line and we are currently in discussion with other groups who are interested in forming partnerships with Harlington, Flitwick and Bedford.”

GTR’s Community Engagement Officer Andrew Chillingsworth added: “It’s very important that we have all sectors of the community involved in our stations. Local stations are very much a focal point of the community, so it’s great to have local people involved.”