Community Rail Week 2023

Platform joins a national campaign celebrating the vital role of Britain’s railways in bringing communities together!

Platform  will join community groups and volunteers across Britain for this year’s Community Rail Week, celebrating how our historic railways connect communities and are helping us move towards a greener, healthier, fairer future.

Community Rail Week, organised by Community Rail Network and sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, runs from the 22nd to the 28th of May, and looks to drive change at a community level through the efforts of 76 community rail partnerships and 1,200 station friends groups across Britain.

Throughout the week, Platform will be highlighting some of the recent and ongoing work it has been doing to ensure the local rail network feels safe and accessible to young people, particularly those with additional needs and disabilities.

The Platform team will be celebrating Community Rail Week with an event taking place every day, including four train trips for students from special schools across the area; trips for primary school children to access outdoor learning opportunities; and in-school workshops focusing on rail safety and confidence, and sustainability.  Inclusion is the overriding theme for the Platform’s Community Rail Week celebrations, with all of the team taking part in British Sign Language Training during the week to further develop the work they do with young people from the D/Deaf community and other specialist provisions.

Over fifty empowering community events and engaging activities are taking place throughout Community Rail Week nationwide – from Edinburgh to Cornwall – aiming to improve travel confidence, increase access to opportunity, tackle social isolation, give communities a voice, and put railways and stations at the heart of community life. They will also encourage people who rarely use public transport to consider the benefits of making at least the occasional switch to greener, healthier, more social forms of travel, including rail.

Emilie Dawson, Learning Development Manager for Platform, said: ‘Community Rail Week is a great opportunity for us to highlight and our ongoing work with schools and young people across the scheme area. We have trips and workshops running every week during term time, and much of this takes place with young people with disabilities, so it was important for this to be our overarching theme for Community Rail Week. We are so grateful for the ongoing support from our Community Rail Partnerships (Severnside, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, TransWilts and South Wessex); to our funders (GWR, Cross Country and The Community Rail Network); and to GWR for providing free travel for rail education, meaning our school offer remains free to schools, making it far more accessible.’

Kevin Day, Headteacher at Belmont Special School, said: ‘The work of the rail education team is simply outstanding and they are professional in all they do. The school based sessions were very skilfully adapted to children with special needs and the resources and ‘hand on’ activities made the sessions as fun as they were educational.  All my staff reported how much the children learnt about railways and rail safety and then to experience a train trip in ‘real life’ was wonderful. I can recommend this wonderful organisation and essential life skill intervention to all schools without reservation’.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “Community rail partnerships and thousands of ‘station friends’ volunteers the length and breadth of Britain are this week mobilising en masse, engaging local people and partners to raise awareness about rail travel, and get people enthused about its benefits. It’s all about connecting communities and bringing people together, while supporting and enabling more people to travel sustainably by train and access the opportunities they want. Community rail has an inspiring track record of doing just that: promoting travel confidence and broadening mobility horizons, sometimes with life-changing effects, while giving communities a voice on transport, and putting railways and stations at the heart of community life.”

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For more information and support, you can contact the Platform team here.