The ‘Routes out of Homelessness’ murals have been painted by street artist, Lionel Stanhope, and installed onto wooden boards on Dark Neville Street. The work is based on designs by two girls, aged 12 and 15, who are being supported by Railway Children.
Railway Children have a partnership with British Transport Police in the UK to support vulnerable young people who have been found at risk on the rail network. Railway stations are a magnet to children who are running away from, or unknowingly towards, danger. Some are victims of child sexual exploitation, trafficking or abuse, and use trains to escape, run away or meet new people. Railway Children’s highly skilled project workers support these children and their families to tackle the issues that led them into danger and help to set them on the path to a brighter future.
This project at Leeds is part of Network Rail’s wider Routes out of Homelessness initiative, in partnership with five charities. In a change of approach to the company’s charitable endeavours, Network Rail has partnered with The Big Issue Foundation, Crisis, End Youth Homelessness, Railway Children and Shelter to focus on this important societal issue.
The wide-reaching Routes out of Homelessness initiative will feature a number of events to raise awareness for the charities, as well as fundraising and a new outreach programme at stations to support the government’s ambitions to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.
Nick Cooper, Leeds Station Manager for Network Rail, said: “This artwork in the dark arches at Leeds station will raise awareness of the amazing work the Railway Children charity does to support vulnerable people.
“As we work with the wider rail industry to support a route out of homelessness, we hope these creative murals will encourage passengers and people in the station who are struggling to get support.”
Mary McLaughlin, Corporate Partnerships Manager for Railway Children, said: “We are thrilled with how the mural has turned out and we’re so proud of the two young ladies who came up with the design. We hope it will catch the eye of people passing through the station and inspire them to find out more about both Railway Children and the Routes out of Homelessness partnership.
“Projects like this will also help us raise awareness of the issues that so many vulnerable young people face and the ways we can all work together to support them.”
Lionel Stanhope, Artist, said: “I really enjoyed working with the Railway Children charity and Network Rail to help raise awareness and tackle homelessness.
“I was impressed with the designs by the two girls who are being supported and I’m proud to be part of this combined effort to find routes out of homelessness.”
Murals have also been installed at Manchester Piccadilly, Glasgow Central and London Charing Cross. Another piece is being painted at London Paddington, which will be installed at Reading station’s new Assisted Travel Lounge when it opens in 2021.