Member blog: Eleanor Dewar, BlueAssist
Imagine being stood in a busy train station - your heart is pounding. There are people everywhere, the noise becomes overwhelming. The smells of the fast food restaurants is overpowering. Every fibre of your being says run but you don't know where to go. You are usually so articulate but now you can't find the words to ask for help. What do you do?
It is at this point when I would find a member of railway staff, reach for my phone and with my BlueAssist app ask them in written form if they could show me somewhere quiet to sit until the panic has calmed.
This is a common occurrence for me when I travel and BlueAssist has become my constant companion and reassurance. BlueAssist is three things - firstly it is a symbol which is a person with a question mark above their head; the dot of the question mark also forms the head of the person. This symbol allows people to recognise quickly that I have a non-disclosed hidden disability.
The second two aspects are the supportive tools. The first of these is the BlueAssist card, this is a card, the size of a bankcard, on which appears the BlueAssist symbol and two boxes – a large central one and smaller one in the bottom right hand corner of the card. The larger of the two boxes is for your message and the smaller box is for a picture to help with identifying the card, which is particularly helpful for people who cannot read or find reading difficult.
The second tool is the BlueAssist App, which features a changeable screen which mirrors the BlueAssist cards. In addition the App has the function to program in a phone number of a trusted person; this number is accessed via a large call button visible at all times on the screen. This number can be changed at any time and there is no limit to the number of times it can be changed.
A key ethos of BlueAssist is that it is free at the point of use, both the App and the cards can be obtained by people with disabilities free of charge and without barrier to entry. BlueAssistUK is working across the country with organisations in a variety of fields from transport, including international airports, to museums and leisure facilities. BlueAssist gives people the confidence they need to be independent and to access all aspects of their community.