Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has awarded grants totalling £375,000 to 19 charities who are launching community projects in areas served by the train operator.
The charities were chosen from over 370 organisations who answered GTR’s invitation to bid for support from its “Your Station, Your Community” fund last summer. Funding support ranges from £1,000 to £50,000, with larger awards split over two years.
The criteria for a successful grant application included how closely the aims of proposed projects match the train firm’s own priorities for community support, which include mental health, life and employment skills among marginalised groups, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.
The winning projects will involve and enhance local communities in East and West Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Surrey, London, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. They include schemes aiming to increase wellbeing and independence for young autistic and disabled people; to improve internet skills among the digitally excluded; to reduce anti-social and criminal behaviour among young people; to improve mental health through gardening; and to build life and employment skills through bike recycling and maintenance training.
There are four station-based public art projects, one particularly focussed on engaging marginalised communities.
AudioActive, among the Sussex projects, use music to help young people tackle difficult problems in their lives and emerging artists to reach their full potential. They run a dedicated programme for those at risk of exploitation or becoming involved in anti-social and criminal behaviour. The Sussex-based charity will use GTR’s grant to expand this programme in the Worthing area.
AudioActive’s CEO Adam Joolia said: “It’s been a particularly challenging year for many young people in Worthing and this support from GTR will mean that we are able to help some particularly vulnerable young people to discover and nurture their talents whilst developing skills and relationships to help them stay safe.’
Other recipients include the Southwest London branch of Missing People, a national charity supporting children and adults who are missing, and their families dealing with the trauma of a disappearance. Missing People provide a specialised helpline that offers a lifeline to people in crisis. GTR’s grant will be used to raise awareness of the issue and where to find vital support, and to help give missing people the opportunity to talk through how to stay safe.
Jo Youle OBE, CEO of Missing People, said: “Thameslink and Missing People are very closely linked. Stations and trains can be a safe haven, and also a one-way ticket away from a current situation for many people when they go missing. The link between transport and missing is so unique – our work will help vulnerable missing people and save lives. We would like to thank Thameslink for this fund, supporting the charity and making sure that more missing people get the right help at the right time.”
GTR’s Chief Executive Officer Angie Doll said: “I’m delighted to congratulate the nineteen successful organisations, many of whom are new partners for us. We’re excited to be working with them all to generate the social and environmental benefits their projects are designed to deliver.
“We’d also like to thank everyone who applied. The magnificent response and extremely high quality of the bids shows the incredible energy, creativity and commitment our local communities possess.
“It has been really hard to decide who the first winners were, as all the bids addressed important social needs. Unfortunately, we can only help fund a fraction of the projects, so many excellent bidders will no doubt be disappointed, and I encourage them to try again now for next year’s fund.
“I would also like to thank our existing partners such as the community rail partnerships and tourism bodies, who did a brilliant job spreading the word across our network.”
GTR’s assessment of the applications was overseen by passenger watchdog Transport Focus, and final approval of each grant award was made by the Department for Transport.
Your Station, Your Community improvement fund 2024/25