Published on : Saturday, May 14, 2016
A new voluntary Rail Ambassador scheme for young people has been jointly launched by Network Rail and British Transport Police to help improve safety near the railway.The programme provides educational opportunities and imparts important life-saving rail safety messages the volunteers can share with their peers. It also provides the young volunteers a unique opportunity to participate in events hosted by Network Rail and British Transport Police, enabling them to gain valuable new skills and empowering them to lead events themselves.
The pilot initiative, aimed at 16-19 year-olds, has recruited four volunteer rail ambassadors; Dan Partridge, Ryan Williams, Gethyn Nightingale, and Jake Tipper, all from Caerphilly.
It follows the launch of the Fab Fridays scheme, set up in January 2015 by British Transport Police and Gwent Police, to tackle a spike in anti-social behaviour and crime around the Caerphilly train station area.
A volunteer programme has been developed and accredited with Millennium Volunteers so that the newly recruited Rail Ambassadors can earn ‘hours credit’ towards a nationally recognised Millennium Volunteers Certificate.
The rail ambassador quartet attended an induction day hosted at Canton Depot last month (April), which included meeting their rail industry mentors from Network Rail and British Transport Police, and taking a tour of the depot facilities and the Wales Railway Operating Centre.
Following the induction, Gethyn said: “I have really enjoyed the induction day and learning so many new things.”Jake said: “As rail ambassadors we are learning so many new things and skills that we will hopefully be able to use in our future careers.”
Tracey Young, community safety manager for Network Rail Wales, said: “Our hope for the project is that we will have a measurable impact on improving safety and reducing the number of anti-social behaviour incidents caused by young people in the Caerphilly area, while up-skilling the volunteers and also developing the skills of our own rail industry mentors.
Lewis Parsons, a Welsh Government-funded community support officer for British Transport Police, said: “Rail Ambassadors is a fantastic project and really is a natural progression from Fab Fridays. Our concept is simple; to empower young people to assist in organising events and eventually leading Fab Friday sessions.
“My hopes for the project are simply to see the rail safety message reach as many young people as possible and hopefully give our rail ambassadors the tools to embark on a career in policing or railway.”
Geraint Morgan, stations community relations manager for Arriva Trains Wales, said: “We’re pleased to support this partnership by providing a tour of the maintenance facilities at Canton Depot. Future opportunities to gain work experience will include work at stations involving painting and landscape maintenance. This voluntary work will help the ambassadors acquire skills and knowledge that will help when applying for future employment opportunities while making a difference in the community.”