London Waterloo station played host to Brew Monday to encourage people to have a chat with someone to improve their mental health.
Brew Monday – the flagship Samaritans' takeover of Blue Monday – is an event that encourages the public to connect with friends, family and work colleagues over a cup of tea.
To share the value of a good brew, teams of Samaritans volunteers were at Waterloo station today ( Monday 20 January) handing out tea bags and talking to passengers and users of the station about the importance of taking time out to talk.
Joining the team of volunteers at the station were Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for transport; Neil Peters, strategic programme manager, Samaritans; Andrew Haines, chief executive, Network Rail; Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex route director, Ian Stevens, Network Rail suicide prevention lead, Robert Nisbit, regional director, Rail Delivery Group, Simon Abernethy, TfL’s suicide prevention lead and Syed Shah who works at London Bridge station.
Network Rail has trained over 20,000 of its staff to spot someone who may be at risk of taking their own life.
Last year, more than 2,000 potentially life-saving interventions were made on or near the railway by rail staff, BTP officers and members of the public.
One of those involved Syed Shah, who works at London Bridge station. One day, while on the platform, he spotted a young woman standing alone and his gut instinct told him something was wrong. He used what he had learnt on his Samaritans training course, and made conversation with her until help arrived. A few days later, Syed received an emotional thank you from the girl’s parents for his life saving intervention.
Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport said: “Any suicide on our rail network is tragic. It is the brave efforts of people like Syed, others in the industry and charities such as Samaritans and Calm which we must recognise.
“So far, Samaritans has trained more than 20,000 railway employees in prevention techniques. This is a tremendous achievement, but we must not stop there. Passengers too can help. Offering a friendly conversation, an opportunity to chat, might be all the difference between suicide and being saved.”
Mark Killick, Network Rail Wessex Route Director said: “Last year saw 279 suicides or suspected suicides on the rail network changing the life of everyone involved. Alongside training thousands of our people to spot when someone might be vulnerable, 100 Welfare Officers are employed to work across stations on the Network Rail Wessex route, providing a round the clock service in a bid to save lives.
“The Brew Monday events are about getting people to talk about how they’re feeling and help us to manage the ups and downs of life. I’d encourage anyone to take time out of their day to chat to someone over a cup of tea.”
Neil Peters, strategic programme manager, Samaritans said: “Samaritans is there for anyone struggling to cope and we want to help people before they reach crisis point. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we see first-hand the significant positive impact that listening can have to a caller talking through their challenges, which might have otherwise felt overwhelming or impossible to overcome.
“For Brew Monday, we encourage the nation to take the time to check on one another and see the power of human connection for themselves.”
Events were also held at Network Rail managed stations across the Southern region including Guildford and London Victoria, and at stations managed by train operating companies.
Photo: London Waterloo station all holding teabags provided by PG Tips.
(L-R) Simon Abernethy, TfL, Ian Stevens, Network Rail, Andrew Haines, Network Rail, Grant Shapps, DfT, Mark Killick, Network Rail, Robert Nisbet, RDG and Neil Peters, Samaritans.