Network Rail Teams Up with Samaritans for Brew Monday

Published on : Monday, January 17, 2022

Today Samaritans, the leading suicide prevention charity, is calling on rail passengers to forget so-called Blue Monday and make time for a cuppa and a chat with someone they care about for the charity’s alternative ‘Brew Monday’, supported by Network Rail and the wider rail industry.

Whilst the third Monday in January is supposedly the most difficult day of the year, Samaritans volunteers know that people can find themselves struggling at any time. The main concerns that volunteers hear from those that contact the charity include mental health and illness (46%), family (34%) and loneliness (28%) all year round*.

So, after last year’s Brew Monday campaign turned virtual due to pandemic restrictions, Samaritans volunteers are now making their return to station events across Britain to show their support for those using the rail network, including our vital key workers and rail staff, and highlighting the importance of reaching out to talk.

Launching at London Waterloo station today, Samaritans volunteers will be on hand providing tea bags and tips on how to be a better listener. The charity and Network Rail have also come together with artists with their own mental health challenges to create inspiring artwork depicting the power of connection, drawn from their own experiences.

In a bid to uplift and inspire rail users as pandemic uncertainties continue, artwork by Britain’s Got Talent contestant and food artist Nathan Wyburn, former volunteer, illustrator and author James Norbury, and contemporary wellbeing artist Emelie Hryhoruk, who has called Samaritans for support in the past, will be featured on digital screens across Network Rail stations from today, 17 January.  

James Norbury is a former Samaritans volunteer who recently published his first illustrated book Big Panda & Tiny Dragon to share some of the ideas that helped him through difficult times. James’ Brew Monday illustration includes a heartfelt penned message reading “Life is like a pot of tea…Share it if you can.”

Speaking about his own experience, James said: “Having struggled with intrusive thoughts for years, I’ve felt the pain and sadness that many callers experience. Talking can help you feel less alone and bring the problems sitting at the back of your head in the shadowy darkness, into the light. Things can often feel much more tangible, rather than a confusing awful mess. Talking about how you feel is a great tonic.”  

Nathan Wyburn of Britain’s Got Talent fame has had his own mental health struggles and anxiety which at times stalled his creativity, but he credits the power of talking in his recovery. Nathan is known for creating art with food, including portraits of Mariah Carey and Tim Peake, so for Brew Monday Nathan created an uplifting portrait showing two people connecting, made with coffee and biscuits.

Nathan said: “Having suffered with anxiety, panic attacks and bouts of depression for many years, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to do anything in those moments, let alone talk – but take it from me, once you open up about how you’re feeling, it can be life-changing. I’m so proud to be supporting Brew Monday and really hope my coffee art catches someone’s eye and makes them think to pick up the phone to a friend. You never know just how much a simple conversation could help someone.”  

Julie Bentley, Samaritans’ CEO, said: “We’re so grateful to the rail industry for their support of Brew Monday again this year. Throughout the various lockdowns and restrictions, the pandemic has shown us that staying connected with others has been a vital part of getting people through difficult times. We know the impact talking and listening can have, and a cup of tea and a chat won’t solve everything, but it can be a start. You don’t have to have all the answers or solutions, you just need to listen and start a conversation which could just be the support that someone needs.”

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Looking after our passengers and staff is so important to our railway family and I know there is more we can all do to help those in crisis. Every one of us has the skills to help someone in need and Brew Monday is a powerful reminder of the simple steps we can take. I am really pleased we are once again able to join Samaritans in our stations to reach out to commuters and those who may be struggling with their mental health.”

Rail Minister, Wendy Morton, said: “Every year Brew Monday is a great success and shows how something as small as sitting down and talking to someone over a cup of tea can make all the difference. It makes me immensely proud to see the hard work put in by the rail industry, in collaboration with Samaritans, to make sure staff can be there for those people most in need.”

Hundreds of Samaritans volunteers will be out at their local train stations across Britain throughout January. Larger station events will be held at London Waterloo today (17 January) before moving to Liverpool Lime Street**. Volunteers there will be joined by artist Nathan Wyburn who will create an inspiring Brew Monday art piece live in station using coffee and biscuits. 

The Brew Monday support comes as part of the rail industry’s suicide prevention programme. Samaritans has worked in partnership with Network Rail, on behalf of the rail industry, to reduce suicides on the railway for over 10 years, having trained over 24,000 rail and BTP staff to look out for passengers and make conversation if they feel someone might need help.

Source:- Network Rail

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