Case Study

Go Upstream


Heriot-Watt University
University of Edinburgh


Social Enterprise and Third Sector


Edinburgh & Lothians


Go Upstream provides a practical training and design programme for transport providers, helping to make services more inclusive for people living with dementia. They bring people with dementia together with people who provide travel and transport services, putting their voice at the heart of future mobility service design.


Travel connections can be challenging, potentially creating barriers to travel, and if the challenges lie in the spaces in between services, how do we discover them, how do we go about reducing barriers, and who is responsible for making improvements?

In 2018, Transport Scotland called for ideas for projects to address some of the challenges identified in Scotland’s Accessible Travel Framework.  This became the focus of a new project that brought together a broad group of partners, led by Go Upstream and funded by Transport Scotland*, called ‘Making Connections: the spaces in-between’. The project idea was to bring disabled people together with transport staff to explore connections from rail stations to ferry terminals and then collaboratively design solutions to these challenges. 

It was an ambitious proposal that required a partnership with many different skills. 

The project partners tapped into the expertise developing here in Scotland around improving environments and services for people with dementia. Making Connections has benefitted from the growing network of projects and organisations funded by the Life Changes Trust.  Partners include StudioLR who are working on improving signage, Paths for All who are changing the way that we think about inclusive outdoor environments and the British Deaf Association who will ensure that the views of deaf people who are affected by dementia are included.

Transport Scotland placed a large emphasis on evaluation and it was important for Go Upstream to bring in specialist expertise to ensure that they could track and describe the project’s impact. 


Referred by Business Gateway, Interface introduced Andy Hyde of Go Upstream to Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor of Landscape Architecture and director of the OPENspace Research Centre. 

OPENspace is an international research centre, based in the universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt, which contributes evidence on why inclusive access to the outdoors matters.

It is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team, bringing together experts in landscape architecture, environmental psychology, human geography and forestry.

Addressing the full spectrum of open space environments – from city parks and squares to remote rural landscapes – their work informs policy on health and wellbeing, social inclusion, countryside access and sustainable urban development.  They focus on the benefits to be gained from getting outdoors and the barriers currently experienced by different users, particularly those from disadvantaged groups.

It was OPENspace’s previous experience of working with people in different outdoor environments, as well as taking a qualitative approach, that was key to tracking the project’s impact.


A key benefit of having the OPENspace team involved in the Making Connections project was the ability to use their monitoring and evaluation results to inform the design of the project approach and tools as the project progressed. By taking this reflective approach, Go Upstream ensured that they were able to keep aligned with their guiding document, Scotland’s Accessible Travel Framework. 

*The new fund provides support to projects which enable the central vision outlined in the Accessible Travel Framework – that all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens – with a particular focus in encouraging more sustainable active travel options.