When Sophie Barber turned 16, her rail fare went up by 77%! Unhappy that she now had to pay an adult fare just to get to school, she took action and together with her friend Emily Stott, started the Childfare campaign. In this blog, Sophie reveals how the campaign started.
Childfare is a national campaign which was founded earlier this year by myself (Sophie Barber) and Emily Stott. We are both sixth form students, in the first year of our ‘A’ level courses and are 16 and 17 years old. The fundamental aim of our campaign is to address the national issue of under 18s being charged adult fares for transport, tourist attractions and cultural/educational places of interest. We feel that these companies, many of which receive publically funded subsidies, urgently need to accommodate for the recent change in legislation which means that anyone from age 16-18 must remain in education or training. These new circumstances mean that it is not legally possible for young people to be in full time employment. As a direct result of this, and other limitations, young people are deprived of the same opportunities which adults are awarded. Consequently we feel that such policies need to be altered.
Transport is part of the problem
Transport, namely buses and trains, form a large part of this problem as many young people nationwide use these as a method of travel; at 16 years old and often before sitting GCSEs, a car is also therefore not an option. Fundamentally these (adult) fares are not suitable under these conditions and young people should not be penalised for the circumstances which the government has imposed upon them. Therefore, we are raising awareness of the issue and aiding the public to get involved. If you’ve been affected by adult fares being charged to under-18s, please share your experiences in the form of photos, letters, social media and more, so that we can add the companies to our database and write to them on their behalf to try and negotiate a change in their policy.
A 77% fare rise
Personally, I became most aware of the issue when I turned sixteen. Other than my age nothing changed, I was still at school and commuting the same journey, but suddenly I was forced to pay an adult fare; a 77% increase! This seemed ridiculous to me and after further research I realised that it was impacting many young people across the country so I saw no reason why we should not attempt to change it. We have received a huge amount of support from a wide range of people and Emily and I have both met with our local MPs.
Moreover, we believe that we can work with these companies so that they can be made aware of the issue. We will encourage them to change their policy with incentives such as, most notably, being labelled and promoted on our website/social media as a Childfare hero (see our website for photo of Emily and Nottingham buses). This will encourage our supporters (and others who before may not have been financially in a position) to utilise the transport company. Furthermore, this will help them to maximise their marketing towards young people which will potentially lead to an increase in profits. When I recently appeared on BBC Breakfast, the rail industry accepted that the policy, which was written 20 years ago when children could leave school at 16, is now out of date and they are keen to work with government on an update. Our objective is to make this happen as soon as possible.