This month we teamed up with charity Railway Children with a sleep-out to help raise awareness of homelessness across Britain.
Our second annual sleep-out event at railway stations was the latest effort to promote charitable giving to organisations helping the homeless.
This year’s event, sponsored by infrastructure contractor VolkerRail, involved more than 300 participants from across the industry and raised about £150,000 for Railway Children. It took place at stations including Manchester Piccadilly, Glasgow Central and London Bridge.
Events like these are part of our Routes out of Homelessness campaign to tackle homelessness with local and national charities across Britain, supporting some of the most vulnerable communities interacting with our railway.
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 to 2019.
Almost 30% of children who said they were at risk will have run away from home or care. Other issues include sexual or criminal exploitation, abuse, addiction, poor mental health and suicide.
Five-year charitable theme
We started supporting charities that help homelessness last year and will remain focussed on this single theme until 2024.
The five-year focus on the cause will mean more opportunities for sustainable and meaningful partnerships in the future.
This is a significant change from our previous strategy – a Charity of Choice partnership scheme in which we work with a single charity for two years.
As part of this focus on a single theme, we’re encouraging Network Rail employees to pursue their own interests in helping homeless people.
Signaller Chris Conway is well known within Network Rail for his volunteering. In December, more than 40 people from the railway joined Chris to sleep out at Blackpool North station to raise money for a homeless charity.
He led colleagues from Network Rail and train operator Northern in helping to support Amazing Graze, a soup kitchen providing meals and support to the homeless in Blackpool.
Chris said at the time:“Amazing Graze is open three days a week, and the volunteers serve up to 15,000 meals a year. The funds we have raised will keep the soup kitchen going and support vulnerable people in Blackpool who need a helping hand.”
Phil James, route director for our North West route, said: “The work Chris has done to help the homeless in Blackpool has inspired us all… I am passionate about this cause and together we can make a difference to help those in need in practical and permanent ways. Chris’ work is invaluable and the whole railway industry is proud of his achievements.”
Anyone concerned for the welfare of children they see travelling on the railway network can call British Transport Police (BTP) on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016.