COVID-19 Updates: Travel Hands will be following the social distancing measures such as wearing masks all the time during the journeys while operating in London after 19th July 2021 restrictions are uplifted!

The Travel Hands Handbook

EASY, SAFE, SIMPLE, ENGAGING, FUN

What can you, our Visually Impaired People (VIP), expect from the travelling experience with Travel Hands:

  1. Schedule journeys with Volunteers from point A to point B as per your requirement.
  2. Connect with trained and vetted volunteers, who have signed up for the sole purpose of guiding you.
  3. Increase your physical activity by walking more steps during the day.
  4. Meet new people, have fun, and enjoy meaningful conversations.
  5. Personal growth while learning about new things, cultures, different backgrounds and different mindsets.
  6. Boost self-confidence and professional growth practicing interpersonal and communication skills.
  7. Become more empathetic.
  8. Learn more about yourself (how do you react to novelty, new people, etc...)

Instruction

You can read the handbook through from the beginning to the end or else use the links below from the table of contents to move to the correct section. At the end of each section you will find a button which you can use to move back to the table of contents easily.

1. Experience with the volunteers

What are the boundaries of the Travel Hands journeys and activities?

We strongly advise you not to deviate from the conditions of the accepted journey or activity requested through us by you as this may inconvenience the volunteer.

For example: if after your requested journey or activity has concluded, you would like to have a walk in the park or grab a coffee with the volunteer but was not previously requested.

List of allowed outdoor activities if shared with us beforehand:

  1. To go for a walk together to the park.
  2. To go grocery shopping.
  3. To go to a cafe for a cuppa.
  4. Assistance with reading physical letters if you wish.
  5. Assistance using mobile device or tools.

The volunteers are strictly instructed to report to us in the eventuality you request anything other than what was previously agreed when you requested the journey or activity with a volunteer. Additionally, avoid meeting with a volunteer beyond the public space.

Do's

  1. Be on time (if possible get to the meet up point 5 min earlier).
  2. Update availability and schedule walks at least 24 hours before.
  3. Check notifications on phone.
  4. Masks should be worn as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures against Covid unless exempt.
  5. Use the suggested route.
  6. Report any misconduct, emergency or request out of the service.
  7. In case you are late, always inform us as soon as possible.
  8. Remember the One Time Secret code that is only shared with you and the volunteer one hour before your journey so that you can identify each other.
  9. Volunteers will identify you with the white cane or with your guide dog as one of the identification marks.

Don'ts

  1. Go to private spaces such as house premises of the volunteer.
  2. Share any personal information such as passwords with the volunteers.
  3. Request for activities that are not pre-decided with the Volunteers.
  4. Touch or physically embrace volunteer in case they appear to be emotional or vulnerable - not everyone would appreciate this and such acts can be considered as forms of harassment.

2. General tips

  1. Our services are currently available from Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm. Share your travel requirements at least 24 hours before the journey time.
  2. Prior to any journey, volunteers are briefed and are aware of any preferences that you may have and shared with us. However, they are human beings and may make mistakes too. So, please have patience and raise any issues in a polite manner.
  3. One hour before the meet-up time, we will send you a notification about the: journey details, name and a short bio about the Volunteer, a one-time Secret Code so that you and Volunteer identify each other.
  4. The Volunteers have been instructed to greet you and mention the “secret code” to identify themselves when they pick you up from a location. 
  5. Introduce yourself before the journey commences and remind the volunteer on the way you would like to be guided or if you have any preferences.
  6. You and the Volunteer will receive a suggestion from apps such as Google Maps or Citymapper of the preferable route to arrive at your destination to ensure it’s the shortest, quieter and nicer way to reach your destination in time. We highly suggest to follow the routes that we provide you as following any other route may not reflect the time estimated for you to complete your journey in the time availability you shared with us.
  7. During each journey, we require volunteers to share their GPS live location with us for safety measures, however you are not required to do so. If you are interested in learning how to share your GPS location using WhatsApp, simply contact us to schedule a lesson. We will NOT track your phone location in any time other than the time walking. 
  8. Upon arrival at the destination point, we ask you to inform us that the journey has been completed. In case you forget about it, don’t worry, we will reach out via WhatsApp to ask you whether you reached your destination.
  9. After every journey, rate the Volunteer so that we can improve our service and the volunteer may learn a better approach. To ensure the best service for all, both you and the Volunteer will be rated on different *areas such as: timeliness, friendliness, nature and feelings of security. Please, share your feedback.

What if something urgent arises and I need to cancel the journey?

In many cases, Volunteers have agreed to help you to attend very important meetings such as visiting your GP or going to a job interview, for this reason we ask you to avoid cancelling any journey you previously accepted unless you can’t really make it. In that case, we ask you to let us know as soon as possible (possibly 24 hours before the journey starts) so that we can inform the volunteer about this.

To avoid any feeling of disillusionment for the Volunteers, we keep track of your cancellations and the amount of notice you give us. We know unexpected events can happen, but this helps us ensure this is not a repeatable pattern and allows us to ensure a reliable service for the Volunteer. If we think you have cancelled more often than necessary, we will be in touch to better understand if we can be of help to you and/or to review your subscription.

3. Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I avoid going to the wrong meet up point?

You will have the option to choose the starting point that is most convenient to you or we will suggest a landmark easily recognizable near you if you are not sure about the starting point. Before the journey, always double check on Google Maps about the starting point and whether the starting point and ending point of the journey have a time reference similar to the one we shared with you.

2. What can I do if the volunteer is not able to find the end destination point?

In case the volunteer you are walking with is not able to find the end destination point, please be patient and let the volunteer find the location on Google Maps alternatively, you can contact us.

If you are not familiar with the end destination point, inform the volunteer straight away. The volunteers have been instructed to support you until you are happy to proceed the journey independently.

In case you are not happy with the end destination point, please don’t hesitate to call us and we will help you sort out the situation.

3. What should I do if a volunteer is interested to meet up in a private space such as inside the house premises?

Politely decline the offer as Travel Hands cannot support you in case any difficulty arises in private premises. For this reason, we kindly ask you to avoid getting inside of private premises and remain in public spaces. This will ensure your safety and security and will prevent any undesired situation or claim.

4. What should I do if I have been harassed by a Volunteer?

Harassment is when someone behaves in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened.

Examples of harassment include:

  1. Unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits
  2. Abuse and bullying online
  3. Stalking
  4. Verbal abuse and threats
  5. Smashing windows or using dogs to frighten you

If you feel it’s a situation of minor harassment or you’re unsure whether it has been voluntary or accidental, please communicate your discomfort to the other party and tell them to abstain from this kind of behaviour.

If you’re being harassed, you can contact us immediately, if the situation is completely out of control, then contact the police. If you think you’re being harassed because of your disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation, you can report the harassment by contacting us right away.

In any case, whether you consider the incident to be intentional or not , you should report it to us so that we can monitor the situation and take actions such as banning the person from the service and preventing similar situations from ever happening again.

These guidelines are valid also for you, so avoid creating a situation that could be considered as harassment.

5. What should I do if I have been sexually harassed by a volunteer?

Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:

  1. Violates your dignity
  2. Makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated
  3. Creates a hostile or offensive environment

You don’t need to have previously objected to someone's behaviour for it to be considered unwanted.

Sexual harassment can include:

  1. Sexual comments or jokes
  2. Physical behaviour, including unwelcome sexual advances, touching and various forms of sexual assault
  3. Displaying pictures, photos or drawings of a sexual nature
  4. Sending messages with sexual content

If you find yourself in the situation of sexual harassment, then:

  1. Try to maintain calm as much as possible.
  2. Communicate clearly the unwanted nature of their behaviour.
  3. Communicate your discomfort.
  4. Communicate to them to stop immediately.
  5. Report the incident to us.

In any case where you feel threatened and their behaviour doesn’t change, or you think it is unacceptable, do not hesitate to call the police and report them.

6. How can I be sure whether it is legal to meet strangers and follow the government regulations?

Travel Hands will provide regular updates on the latest UK Government policies regarding COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions.

7. How can I be sure of not walking with someone that may have COVID-19?

We cannot be completely sure whether someone has COVID-19 but we ask both you and VIP’s to fill in the form before any journey. The form helps us to understand whether one is manifesting any symptoms or has been in contact with people who resulted positive. In this scenario, we will ask either of the parties to abstain from using Travel Hands and advise them to get tested as soon as possible.

8. What should I do if I have an argument or conflict with the volunteer?

You may get into an argument with someone on varied topics. But, it is important to acknowledge that different people have different perspectives and no one means harm to you. Therefore, we request you to maintain calm and avoid escalating any matter with a high tone of voice or using offensive language. Express your discomfort about the argument and tell them you would prefer not to talk about it anymore. Take some deep breaths and move on to a new topic.

If you feel you are nervous or in a situation of discomfort during the journey, please try to bring the journey to an end or reach out to us in case you think you are not able to complete your journey. Report the incident into our feedback so that we can enquire by contacting both the parties and reconcile the situation.

9. What happens if someone injures themselves? Do you have insurance in place?

We are not liable to pay for any medical expenses as a result of your injury while you engage in the journeys or activities with Travel Hands.

4. Contact

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Toll-free number or Whatsapp: +44 20 3966 1650