On Thursday 30 January, 22 railway workers made Leeds station a place to stay for the night as they took on the cold to raise money for this vital cause.
This year the British Transport Police estimates it will deal with more than 10,000 child safeguarding incidents on Britain’s railways; an 11% increase from 2018/19. Almost 30% of children identified as being at risk will have run away from home or care; other issues include sexual or criminal exploitation, abuse, addiction, poor mental health and suicide.
This is the first time that this event has been hosted at Leeds station, following successful events elsewhere in the country.
Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail’s Eastern region, was one of those who participated in the event. He said:
“It was a real eye opener to see what many vulnerable children have to go through. It was a hard night sleeping out, but it was made better knowing we had raised money for a great cause which will help those who need it most.
“The Railway Children make a big difference and we are delighted to support them and hope to continue doing so in the future.”
Railway Children work alongside the BTP and the rail industry to protect and support children at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, providing longer term one-to-one support to address the issues they face. They also work with their families, providing parental and family support where appropriate to improve relationships and reduce conflict. Both methods are effective in achieving long-lasting, positive outcomes.
Railway Children CEO Terina Keene said: “Our work at railways in the UK has shown us that all too often these vulnerable children see stations as a place to go or hide, and trains as a means to escape. This event has helped us raise awareness of the problems young people face as well as vital funds to support them and to keep them safe. We couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone involved and we have to say a huge thank you to everyone who gave up their beds for the night to join us for the Sleepout.”