61. Travel Hands

Travel Hands is empowering VIPs (visually-impaired persons) by matching them with volunteers for a safe outdoor travelling experience from end-to-end.

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Founders: Kazeem Bushari and Ishan Jha
Founded: 2019
Website: travelhands.co.uk

Most of us find traversing the UK’s pedestrian-unfriendly cities difficult enough. But for those who are visually-impaired, the simple act of taking a walk in the park can become one that is fraught with anxiety. 

After contracting a degenerative eye disease, Travel Hands cofounder Ishan Jha wanted a way to empower the 360,000 VIPs currently living in the UK. 

By connecting a VIP with a fully-sighted volunteer, everyday errands such as a daily commute or even a simple trip to the shops become much safer – and also more memorable, as lasting bonds are formed through the journey.

With Travel Hands, everyday errands such as a daily commute or even a simple trip to the shops become much safer.

Through the user-friendly and accessible Travel Hands app, VIPs can submit a trip request and be automatically partnered with a volunteer who will guide them directly to their destination. 

Before becoming Travel Hands-qualified, all volunteers are vetted with enhanced DBS checks and then internally trained to ensure that every VIP can feel 100% confident about using the app.

VIPs largely fund the service via an Uber-like model, with prices starting from £3 for an hour-long trip. Separately, volunteers are given corporate-affiliate incentives based on the number of trips they complete through the platform.

While serving the needs of VIPs first and foremost, Travel Hands also promises that the service will reduce stress on UK public transport services and the NHS through secondary health benefits of getting people out and about.

All volunteers are vetted with enhanced DBS checks and then internally trained to ensure that every VIP can feel 100% confident about using the app.

With over 200 assisted journeys so far completed, Travel Hands has won Innovate UK and Sport England grants to continue its vital work. Next it plans to be the go-to travel option for people living with disabilities, who currently rely on often inaccessible and intimidating transport systems.

While the platform is currently only available in London, both founders say they want to continue driving positive change and move the dial forward on disability inclusion by bringing Travel Hands to every UK town and city.

“In the next five years, we will be the alternate go-to travel option for people with disabilities and a new means for sighted volunteers to experience empathy with a simple act of good,” says Jha.

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