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OCS Group UK Ltd initiatives and engagement with local disability groups

OCS Group UK Ltd is committed to ensuring Bristol Airport is accessible to all, we have been working on a number of initiatives and engaging with local disability groups and charities over the past twelve months to understand how we can improve the service and better understand the challenges passengers with both reduced and hidden disabilities face when travelling by air.

In October OCS held a “Challenge for Change” event, we invited several disability groups and charities from the South West to the airport to meet with ourselves and representatives from Swissport, Easyjet, Menzies and Bristol Airport, with an aim to engage and discuss on a broad scale how airport special assistance is perceived not just in Bristol Airport but nationwide and what we can do as an industry to move in a positive direction, OCS produced a Challenge for Change report which attendees took home, the report can be downloaded at www.challengingforchange.com. There were some very positives conversations had and contacts made.

During the winter period we invited local disability groups and charities including Bristol Dementia Action Alliance, Action for Blind and The Centre for Deaf and Hard of Hearing to display at our Special Assistance desks in the terminal, this has offered a great opportunity for Bristol Airport passengers and staff to learn more about the work they do and understand more about specific disabilities in addition to raising the profile of the great work that these organisations undertake.

November saw Bristol Airport and OCS attend Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s AGM, this was a great way to understand what challenges are faced in the greater Bristol area by many types of disabilities and was a very positive way of gaining an insight in to the valuable work they undertake for disabled rights, the forum was attended by several people including representatives from Bristol City Council and local Universities.

We were very proud in December to of been nominated and won a “Professional Excellence Award” from Bristol Autism Support in recognition of the help and support that OCS has given to families who have children on the Autism spectrum from the Bristol area and who were due to travel through Bristol Airport, this has included engaging with the families directly and offering tours of the airport so the children and parents can understand the environment, know what to expect and prepare for their journey, we continue to offer regular Autism and Hidden Disability tours to passengers who have concerns regarding travelling through the airport.

In February Bristol Airport in conjunction with OCS Group UK Ltd and Accessible Travel & Leisure Managing Director Andy Wright held it’s first ever Disability Consultative Commitee meeting, attendees included representatives from CAA, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Bristol Dementia Action Alliance, Bristol Disability Equality Forum, Action on hearing loss and Bristol Stroke Association.

OCS recently engaged with WECIL (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living) to assist them with a pilot scheme aimed at helping disabled people into employment, this resulted in us being able to offer some work experience at the airport.

OCS Group UK Ltd and Bristol Airport have also recognised a real need to ensure that our passengers with hidden disabilities can travel through Bristol knowing that the support they need is available and that there are initiatives in place that can ease their journey, with this in mind OCS and Bristol Airport have recently launched three initiatives that we feel will help and support passengers with hidden mobility.

We have introduced a Hidden Disability lanyard scheme to Bristol that is also in operation at several other UK airports that OCS operate Special Assistance services at, we have also launched a Bristol specific Hidden Disability Assistance card for those passengers who wish to be more discreet, we were also lucky enough to work with a fantastic organisation thumbsupworlduk.org to produce an interactive hidden disability booklet that families can read through and fill out both in advance of and during their journey, full details of all three initiatives can be found on the Hidden Disability section of Bristol Airports website.

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