Got 60 seconds? Inspiring app invites everyone to help people with disabilities

By Kitty Knowles 14 November 2016

The JAM Card app shows how 'Just a Minute' can change a life.

It should come as no surprise that people with learning disabilities want to live happy, independent lives – but sometimes everyday situations can stand in the way.

It might be the case that an individual requires a few more minutes to pay for an item in a shop, or to communicate their needs to a bus driver, their doctor, or some other official.

That’s where a JAM Card can help – as a discrete way for people to indicate that they need ‘Just a Minute’ more time.

What is a JAM card?

A JAM Card is a credit card-sized card that can be shown to staff to let them know they may need to be a little more patient (on one side it says ‘Just a Minute’ and on the other it says ‘Please be patient I have a learning difficulty/disability’).

The service was inspired by members of Belfast’s Kidnap Wednesday meet-ups, and created by NOW Group (an enterprise that supports people with learning difficulties into jobs).

“Our Kidnap Wednesday group is made up of adults with learning difficulties who love getting out and about in Belfast and beyond to go to art galleries, events or even just meet up for coffee,” Jayne McStay, JAM Card Project Manager, told The Memo.

“They told us that sometimes they feel they can’t, as they don’t have the confidence to get public transport by themselves; that they often felt under pressure and would like a discreet way of letting people know that they needed a little extra time.”

Digital benefits

Most recently, the team collaborated with Creative Metrics boss Ciaran Murray, who’s helped to transform the JAM Card into a brand new app.

Through this, the team hope to support even more people to live life to the full, as well as provide NOW Group, and their community of users, with even more useful information.

“The app will ask them to log where they have used the card, for example on transport or in a shop, and we can analyse this data to help us understand what situations the card is being used in most and help us with our development,” says McStay.

“We want to help increase people’s confidence and independence [and] we believe that this increased confidence can open up all sorts of possibilities for people.”

Better for everyone

It’s a simple idea, but the JAM Card and app will help many more people that those who use it directly.

“Staff have commented that they feel relieved when someone shows them their card as it alerts them to the fact that someone needs a little extra assistance,” says McStay.

Families and carers benefit too.

“We have had a lot of feedback from families and carers of users who say they no longer have to give the user as many lifts because the JAM Card user now feels confident getting public transport themselves,” adds McStay.

“This gives the family member back a little bit of time to themselves.”

The future

The NOW Group has just received funding from Big Lottery Fund and Nominet Trust, which they hope to use to expand the JAM Card and app throughout Northern Ireland.

“We want to show the JAM Card to groups who might benefit from it and get their feedback and to develop it further.”

Perhaps the JAM Card is something you’d like to see utilised where you live, in the UK, or abroad? But the Now Group are dreaming even bigger.

“Honestly our dream is for the JAM Card not to be needed in the future,” says McStay.

“We would love society to become more tolerant and understanding of people with learning difficulties and we believe that the work we are doing now with the JAM Card could help contribute to making that happen.”

For now we think the JAM Card app is making a world of difference. Wouldn’t you like to be able to give a moment more of your time?

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