Railway Children met with Rail Minister Huw Merriman in Crewe to talk about the work the charity does to support vulnerable children and young people across the UK transport network.
The meeting, which was hosted at Avanti West Coast’s Talent Academy on August 8, was also attended by representatives from the Department of Transport (DfT), Cheshire East Council and MP for Crewe and Nantwich, Kieran Mullen.
Railway Children shared their mission to build a safety net across the rail industry to identify and protect children and young people at risk and provide ongoing support to their families. They presented evidence of how they have strengthened safeguarding responses within rail communities through the development of the Safeguarding on Transport programmes at five major stations and their critical referral scheme with British Transport Police (BTP).
From 2021-2022, Railway Children’s Youth Practitioners supported 930 young people referred by BTP officers, from providing bespoke advice and guidance to delivering trauma-informed, one-to-one youth work and family interventions.
During the meeting, they also highlighted the support from rail partners that has been crucial in the development of UK projects, including the recent Glasgow Safeguarding on Transport programme, which was funded by Alstom and Avanti West Coast.
Gaynor Little, UK Programme Manager – Youth Practice at Railway Children, said: “We have a great working relationship with BTP, Avanti West Coast and the rail community, who are our eyes and ears at stations and on the transport system. Together, we can reach more children and young people who are at risk and continue to make the rail network a place where vulnerability is seen and reported.
“I am proud of the work we have achieved within the rail industry and the impact our team of Youth Practitioners have had on the lives of the young people they have engaged with.”
Rail Minister Huw Merriman acknowledged their dedicated efforts in addressing the safety of vulnerable young people who use the transport network. Railway Children have previously worked with the DfT on the national Safeguarding on Rail accreditation and aim to make it compulsory within train operating company contracts by 2027.
Rob Capener, CEO of Railway Children, said: “We were grateful to meet with the Rail Minister to talk about the Railway Children’s work and our relationships with the UK rail industry that make what we do possible. It was a great opportunity to share our insights and discuss the potential of working with the DfT to enhance the change we seek to create for vulnerable children and young people.
“We would like to thank Avanti West Coast for organising the meeting and for generously allocating time for us to share our story. Railway Children remains committed to our mission to ensure no child is left behind and we eagerly look forward to the prospect of further collaboration to create a lasting impact on young people’s lives.”
Mark Osborne, Regional Growth Manager at Avanti West Coast, said: “We are delighted Railway Children joined us for the Rail Minister’s visit to showcase their work to safeguard young people in the UK and abroad.
“Through our work with the charity, we have seen first-hand the difference their efforts to support and protect vulnerable children can make on the rail network. It was great to highlight this to the Minister, as well as share how industry partners are joining together with Railway Children to build on this vital work.”