Summer Chuggin’, Had Me A Blast…

Whilst schools in the area took a well-deserved break over the summer, it was full steam ahead for Platform!

As the summer holidays began, it was time for the teachers to become the pupils with a day of learning at Reading Train Depot, organised by Maddy Mills from South-East CRP’s education team.

The idea for the day came about from both sets of education officers expressing a desire to be able to answer more of the complex questions thrown at them by school children: how do trains get their tyres changed? Why aren’t the wheels always flat? And – importantly – do toilets just empty out on to the tracks?

The team were given a tour by Michael Smith from GWR, who was able to answer all their questions and enthuse them with plenty of interesting tid-bits to keep learners enthused for the coming academic year.

Still excited from the adventure of the depot day, the Platform team led a This Mighty Traveller trip for service users from Jamats Day Centre in Gloucester. Emilie from the team had previously visited to deliver a pre-travel safety and confidence workshop, so everyone arrived prepared and ready.

The group travelled from Gloucester to Worcester Foregate Street, where they visited the History and Heritage Pod for a morning of crafting. Platform’s Imogen demonstrated how to create a 3D train model before assisting the group in making their own. It was a good chance to relax and refresh after the train journey, and to celebrate some upcoming birthdays with cake!

Before leaving Worcester, the group walked down to the riverside. It was a pleasant surprise to see the sun shining, and the group enjoyed spotting swans at the sanctuary before returning for the train back home.

It was back to Gloucester the following day for Emilie, who was working with The Aston Project. She had previously delivered journey-planning and safety sessions to two groups of young people involved in the project, and this was the day they were coming together, putting their learning into practice, and going on a train trip.

The group travelled from Gloucester to Weston-Super-Mare where, on arrival, they went to enjoy some free time; there was even a break in the rainfall. On the return journey, some students took the opportunity to rest their eyes (they weren’t sleeping – honest!) and some played games. All the students followed safety rules, behaved beautifully, and showed excellent understanding of how to use the railways.

This week, Platform’s Soo worked alongside Faye from Severnside Community Rail Partnership with young people and families from Bath Area Play Project for a trip from Bath to Bradford-on-Avon. Pre-travel safety briefings were delivered at Bath Spa station, and Arlo’s Adventures was read to the group whilst at Bradford-on-Avon, helping to reinforce key safety messaging.

As well as running trips this summer, the team have also been at community events. Emilie spent the day at Euston Station as part of an Emily the Engineer event organised by Skanska. There, she spoke to travelling families about keeping safe on the railways and shared books, activities, stickers and more.

The following day, Imogen attended a well-being day at Worcestershire Parkway station, along with Worcestershire Community Rail Partnership. The joyous event – organised by GWR – had a large range of family activities, local organisations, and community representatives present. A colouring competition, run by Worcestershire Community Rail Partnership, had a great number of entries and even the grown-ups were keen to engage in what Platform were offering!

Sam Thomson – from Jamats Academy – said, “The Platform team was absolute fantastic! They made every single one of us feel safe when venturing into a new community and was so helpful on the trip. For of a lot of our guys it was there first time on a train and was nervous, but the Platform team quickly settled any nervous and turned the trip into a really enjoyable experience. They looked after everyone and they all had such a fantastic time, we cannot wait for the next!”

Imogen Sackett – Senior Learning Development Officer from Platform – said, “It has been brilliant to engage with adult learners, families, and community partners this summer. We are constantly adapting and developing our offer and the more variation we can have in delivery, the stronger this can become. I am now shifting my focus from delivery to resources for the rest of the summer, in order to launch our online KS1 offer in September!”

The team extend their thanks to their five Community Rail Partnerships, and their funders – GWR, Cross Country and The Community Rail Network – for their ongoing support.

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