Home » Preparing the mentoring pilot in Turku – how to involve our user groups?
Senior citizens represent 20.6 % of City of Turku’s total population. Valonia and Föli Turku Region Public Transport authority are developing an integrated mentoring model to familiarize seniors with new services in public transport and to assess their needs and challenges. The aim is to increase the number of senior citizens using public transport by encouraging the user group to participate in testing new services and developing the PT system age-friedlier. In our pilot we are developing two kind of mentoring models: peer coaching and youth as coach.
The first part of the pilot focuses on peer coaching and it is implemented in autumn 2019. The idea is that accustomed senior PT users coach their inexperienced peers on the use of public transport. The activities in the trial include using the PT services for 30 days for free, attending a tech and digi clinics and sharing experiences with others. All coaching will be observed and documented carefully aiming to find the key points and challenges where the coach can help as well as where PT services can be improved and developed from the senior point of view.
To start developing the base for the model and involve the user group we held a workshop “Better public transport for seniors” in June 2019. An open invitation was sent via local senior groups and associations with an aim to involve the user group as at the earliest stage possible. We welcomed everyone over 65 years old; the frequent users of public transport as well at the non-users. The aim of the workshop was to hear seniors‘ views on the local public transportation system, their challenges and needs. During the workshop information about availability, accessibility, acceptability and affordability etc. of public transport was gathered, and furthermore it was discussed how a mentoring model should be implemented and sustained in the long term and how could it be based on a voluntary network.
In this event we opened a call for the pilot group members. We were looking for a group of about 20–30 people, half of them active PT-users who would be peer coaches and other half of non-users or those who face specific challenges while using PT. Surprisingly, we received mostly applications from the active users, who were willing to act as peer coaches in the pilot. This was a good reminder, that the silent groups are usually the ones with most challenges, hence finding and involving this target group needs special attention – after all, it’s the most important group we need to affect. It made us consider the ways to reach this specific user group. The type of events and methods for gathering information should be something that attracts specifically these specific users. Luckily, we found out that in our city there’s a group of about 370 +65-years old men that gathers weekly to excercise together in a local sports hall. Many members of this group Aarnen talli arrive for training with their own cars and they even have concerns about too small parking space – all this we learned recently from an article on a national tabloid Iltalehti.
In August we had confirmed the active group of peer coaches and a few of those who wanted to be trained. We held a workshop for them during the EU Mobility Week event Mobility through all ages in Turku on 18th September. The aim was to gather information about the pilot group members as PT users and start forming pairs for the pilot based on their knowledge, capacity, usual routes etc. We discussed together the best ways to find and reach the non-users to be trained in the trial.
We then decided to contact Aarnen talli and ask for an opportunity to introduce our project and the pilot with an intention to recruit some more volunteers. This sure is an ideal user group to ask the very question: what would motivate one to travel by bus rather than own car? And how the attitude could be changed? The recruiting visit was arranged with the peer coaches on September 2nd and it was successful as we were able to talk about public transportation and the upcoming trial which led to new applications as non-users in the pilot group. The peer coaches found some non-users to the trial also through their own senior clubs, hobbies and associations. It seems efficient efficient to let the peer coaches search for suitable people themselves and use their own networks for recruiting, this also supports the persistence and commitment of the couples, especially the coaches.
We now have 22 members in the group which means 11 couples who will use the PT services for 30 days. We will start the trial on the 30th October with a kick-off event. Before this we will organise a tech and digi clinic where the pilot group will familiarize with the Föli services that they are going to be using, such as webpage, mobile ticket and route search application. During the 30 day trial we will organise another clinic to hear user experiences and solve any challenges faced with these services. Föli and their service officers will take part in these as well, which is very important. The couples will also be observed and interviewed – Turku University of Applied Sciences sosiology students will follow the couples on their journey and collect their feedbck and thoughts about the trial.
(Photos: Heta Laiho)
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