A SCHEME developed by disabled people in Brighton and Hove to get around easily by bus has gone national.

Helping Hand is a unique and award-winning helpful information card.

It was co-created by local disability groups and users together with bus company Brighton and Hove Buses.

It has been so successful other bus operators in the city are already using it as well as the city’s longest standing taxi firm Streamline, who formally adopted the scheme.

Now public transport provider Go-Ahead is set to roll it out across its bus companies around the country.

Local groups Grace Eyre, Action on Hearing Loss, Guide Dogs (Brighton and Maidstone) and Possability People, together with those who use their services, directly influenced the colour, design and wording of the Helping Hand cards.

Graham Oulton, the former head of Brighton and Hove Guide Dogs who is registered blind, was highly instrumental in developing the scheme.

He said: “Helping Hand is unlike any other such card I’ve experienced.

“It’s the size and sturdiness of a credit card and it’s got bump-ons in one corner so as soon as I feel it in my wallet I know it’s the Helping Hand card and which way round to show it.

“It means the driver is aware of me.

“He knows he needs to take extra care. I don’t have to say anything to the driver as the Helping Hand card does that for me.

“Mine says ‘Please assist if required.’

“Usually the driver waits, giving me the time to find my way to a seat and settle into it before moving off.

“It makes going out and about possible for someone like me and that’s a lifeline. It gives me independence and dignity.”

Becky Ellis has what’s known as a hidden disability.

She has learning disabilities and has – in the past – lacked the confidence to get on a bus.

The Helping Hand card helped to make getting around so much easier for Becky.

She said: “I told Brighton and Hove Buses about how I got funny looks from other passengers when I sat in a priority seat and was often asked to move.

“It’s sometimes difficult for me to explain clearly why I have a right to be there and that I feel safer there because I’m closer to the driver. It’s also embarrassing having to explain myself.”

Helping Hand is a discreet, unbranded bright yellow card with either a bespoke or off-the-shelf message for the driver giving them brief but valuable information so help can be provided.