Today may be ‘Blue Monday’ – thought to be the most difficult day of the year – but Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign, supported by Network Rail and the wider rail industry, aims to raise spirits by harnessing the uplifting power of a good brew and a chat.
In a bid to beat the winter blues and after a challenging year for all as restrictions continue, author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy is showing his support by creating a special illustration to encourage rail passengers and staff to reach out to someone they care about and connect over a virtual cuppa this winter.
It comes as new online research from Samaritans has found that over half (58%) of UK adults, felt that speaking regularly to friends and family either on the phone, via video calls or in person over the last year had a positive effect on their mental wellbeing. Among these, helping people keep in contact with loved ones, feeling less isolated and improving their mood were all highlighted as common reasons for keeping in touch.
To help ensure less people struggle alone, Samaritans is kicking off Brew Monday today. Turning ‘Blue Monday’ on its head and into something positive, Charlie Mackesy has shared an uplifting illustration from his international bestselling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, whose drawings and words of hope have brought comfort to many this year. Charlie has penned a new message for Brew Monday within the illustration, as the Mole asks a slice of cake, “can I share you with a friend?”.
Whilst the current pandemic restrictions mean that Samaritans volunteers can’t be at stations talking to passengers about the importance of staying connected this Brew Monday, the illustration will be displayed across Network Rail stations’ digital screens, highlighting the power of human connection to inspire passengers instead.
Speaking about his support for the campaign, Charlie said: “I’m happy to be able to share the Mole with Samaritans for Brew Monday. I hope people will see the drawing and consider sharing their own virtual piece of cake and a nice cup of tea with someone close to them. It has been a hard year for a lot of us and talking and being with loved ones means so much more to us now.”
Network Rail staff will also be holding virtual Brew events to check in on their colleagues, friends and family members that they can’t be with, to stay connected this winter.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail said: “This year, it’s more important than ever that we make time to take care of ourselves and check in on each other. That’s why we’re supporting Brew Monday. I encourage you all to take five and to talk to a friend, family member or colleague today. Something as simple as this could make a real difference to someone who may be struggling.”
Julie Bentley, Samaritans’ CEO, said: “We’re so grateful to Network Rail and the rail industry for their support of Brew Monday this year. The challenges that many people face during this season have been felt even more acutely this year with the pandemic restrictions. At Samaritans, we know how powerful talking and listening, even if it is virtually, can be. It doesn’t have to be a Monday or a cup of tea, it’s about taking the time to really listen and supporting one another, which could potentially save a life.”
The Brew Monday support comes as part of the rail industry’s suicide prevention programme. Samaritans has worked in partnership with Network Rail, on behalf of the rail industry, to reduce suicides on the railway for over 10 years, having trained over 22,000 rail and BTP staff to look out for passengers and make conversation if they feel someone might be vulnerable.
Find out more at samaritans.org/brewmonday or join the conversation on social media using #BrewMonday and why not make a donation while you’re there, you could help save a life. Charlie’s illustration is also available to buy on a pin badge from Samaritans’ online shop.
Photo credit: Network Rail