Travellers Aid helping those in need

Debbie Cooke has been “totally blind” since infancy. 

She credits Travellers Aid with helping her to live independently.

“Without that, I wouldn’t be able to travel on my own – they’re a conduit,” Miss Cooke said. 

“It wouldn’t be equality of life without them.”

Travellers Aid has helped people to “move independently and confidently” through the public transport system since 1916.

Chief executive officer Elias Lebbos said the not-for-profit organisation’s main focus was on people who had been displaced, had a disability, experienced mobility challenges, travel disadvantage or financial hardship.

Its services were accessed 236,000 times in the past financial year. 

After moving to Bendigo in 2011, Miss Cooke relied on the service to get her to work in Melbourne. 

Since being made redundant, She said Travellers Aid helps her to connect with friends.

She found Southern Cross Station particularly challenging without the help of an escort.

“It’s such a noisy environment,” Miss Cooke said. 

Kathleen Corner said she and her husband would not venture into Melbourne without the buggy service at Southern Cross Station.

The couple moved to Bendigo about five years ago.

“Since then, my husband has been very ill,” Mrs Corner said. 

“Without Travellers Aid, we could never go to Melbourne.

“Only for that, he would not get out of the house.”

Mrs Corner said she could not speak highly enough of the service, a sentiment Miss Cooke echoed. 

A medical companion service, emergency relief for travellers in crisis, and buggy and personal guidance at Southern Cross Station are among the organisation’s offerings.

A display at Bendigo Railway Station details the services Travellers Aid provides and its 100-year history.

It will be exhibited in Bendigo until October 5, after which it will visit Geelong, Ballarat, Traralgon and Seymour. 

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