At Community Rail Lancashire we are passionate about all things ‘community’ and ‘rail’. By connecting communities to their railways across Lancashire and beyond we seek to empower people to travel by rail and think of the rail industry as a viable career option whatever background they come from. Our team works to support a wide variety of community, faith and school groups to be confident rail passengers who are proud of their local stations; this is achieved through school-based workshops, art projects, station groups and station improvements.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
‘Around 4.4% of suicides in Great Britain take place on the railway, but the emotional, human and financial costs are disproportionately high as they can take place in view of passengers, station staff and drivers…’ Network Rail
At Community Rail Lancashire we work in partnership with groups and organisations to support the more vulnerable within our communities. For example:
We support community groups (Station Adoption Groups) who look after local stations carrying out litter picking, general tidying and tending to gardens. Without these regular meetings and sense of purpose many of those involved may become isolated and become at risk of poor mental health.
We hosted a Suicide Prevention Training day, delivered by the Samaritans, for a range of people who work within the rail industry.
Our team has a Mental Health First Aider within it.
We are supporting Women in Community Rail with their mental health ‘breathing space’ sessions. These are monthly sessions available for all staff working in community rail to talk confidentially in a safe space and learn new strategies to help them cope with working through difficult times. All sessions are free of charge.
What are your current priorities?
‘Community rail is a national movement that aims to play an important role in social inclusion, community wellbeing and economic development, and promote rail as a key part of sustainable, health travel.’ Community Rail Network
We are working towards facilitating ‘Places of Welcome’ at a number of our rail stations in Lancashire. Places of Welcome is a national initiative that encourages local communities to organise an accessible place where people can come to sit, talk and participate in activities in order to reduce loneliness at least once a week. We hope that we will be able to take small groups of people on train journeys and wellbeing walks as part of a mental health strategy.
What challenges are you currently facing?
As with everywhere and everything the main challenge we are facing is working to support our communities whilst living with the reality of Covid-19. Much of our engagement is (normally) face-to-face but we have adapted and will continue to do so. Places of Welcome is built on the idea of somewhere for people to go and see other people face-to-face so this is a challenge at the moment. We are looking into possibly setting up a place at Accrington Station but having a limit on how many people can attend until the restrictions are lifted.