Hampton in Arden’s RDAC, a driving assessment centre and part of the Driving Mobility network, has had the honour of a visit from Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister of State for Transport.
Supported by The Department for Transport (DfT), the national charity Driving Mobility oversees a network of centres across the UK that provide a range of driving and mobility assessment services so individuals with restricted mobility can gain or retain independence. Service users can self-refer or are signposted to centres, such as those operated by RDAC, from the DVLA, Motability, NHS and the Police. Their main ‘fitness to drive’ assessments are complemented by additional services including mobility scooter assessments and advice on using accessible public transport – all focused on facilitating inclusion and reducing social isolation.
On arrival at RDAC’s headquarters, Mr Heaton-Harris MP was greeted by Edward Trewhella, CEO of Driving Mobility, and Sean Barratt, CEO of RDAC. Representatives from the DfT’s Accessible and Inclusive Travel Division; the Manager for the Mobility Centres of England, Sue Rogers MBE; and Head of Equalities and Inclusion, Faith Wilkinson were also in attendance.
Sean Barratt opened by saying: “RDAC were privileged to represent Driving Mobility and other assessment centres in hosting a visit from the minister”. A tour of the recently built RDAC Head Office followed where Sean Barratt explained how the Government is continuing to support Driving Mobility Centres so they can support greater equality and opportunities for disabled and older people.
Stephen Dent, Head of Assessments and Education at RDAC, exhibited a variety of accessible and adapted vehicles whilst giving the Minister an overview of driving adaptations, vehicle access solutions and drive-from-wheelchair options. This was then followed by demonstrations from RDAC’s Clare Jones, Head of Assessments and Research. She showcased paediatric assessment equipment that enables disabled children and families to achieve a better quality of life. Solutions included specialist car seats, innovative paediatric powered wheelchairs and the TryB4UFly service which provides advice on air travel with a disability.
To complete the visit, Amy Leddington, Head of Marketing and Business Operations, talked through the client journey after assessment and how the launch of the new RDAC Driving School and HUBs pilot project complete a full circle of support. Kirsty Flint, Occupational Therapist and HUBS Programme for East Riding and Greater Manchester, reiterated Amy’s message by expressing how invaluable the HUBs service has been for people with disabilities. The HUBs scheme, funded by the DfT, was launched in 2019 to provide information and support about transport options for individuals who were advised against continuing to drive.
Minister Chris Heaton-Harris concluded by saying: “Disability should never be a barrier to independence, and it was a pleasure to see and support the vital work being done at RDAC. Visiting the centre underlined to me how important it is that our transport network is truly accessible, ensuring everyone can travel with confidence again following the pandemic.”