Transforming lives and communities
Everything we do as a railway is about connecting people, and providing the pathways that improve their lives. But we want to be at the heart of the communities we serve in more ways than one.
As a business we have real power to make a huge impact in transforming lives and communities. We know many of our people and customers are incredibly passionate about their local area and how they can make them a better place to live and work.
We will focus on making a real difference in three important areas of society: Young People, Homelessness and Mental Health. We will do this by continuing to build close relationships with community groups and charity organisations, providing support and opportunities to address these issues.
Take a look at the many ways we do this at Great Northern, Gatwick Express, Southern & Thameslink:
The Prince’s Trust
GTR have worked with The Prince’s Trust’s ‘Get Into Railways’ programme to open opportunities to young people from challenging and disadvantaged backgrounds. GTR’s participation in the Get Into Railways programme means provision of a four-week work placement with a further six months support post-placement. Govia Thameslink Railway currently provide three programmes per year with 151 taking part since the start of the franchise. Last year saw 39 young people join GTR on placements with, over the last two programmes, 74% being offered permanent job roles, making the programme a valuable source of previously invisible talent.
This year we were proud to win the ENEI Advancing Social Mobility in the Workplace Award – 2019.
Thousands of young people rely on us every day to get to their school, activities and meet their friends, but there are countless others who don’t get the opportunities they deserve. We can have a huge impact on their lives by helping to put them on the right track.
GTR, in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, runs 'Get into Railways', a programme for young people from difficult backgrounds. 2019 marks the 5th anniversary of this special partnership and has generated £1.6 million of social benefit to UK society over the period 2014-2019.
The programme has so far helped 182 18-25 years old’s gain skills and work experience. With 164 of these young people completing the course since the start of the partnership in 2014, 77% have secured sustainable, permanent jobs in the GTR network which covers Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express.
The 18-25 year olds selected for the programme receive free four-week and two-day courses at a training centre on our network. Their time is split between the training centre and a two-week work placement at one of our stations. The programme focuses on practical skills development and the chance to build a strong CV. The Prince’s Trust helps young people become work- ready by developing their skills and confidence. Participants also get to experience a number of mock interviews with our staff.
For more information about the work that The Prince’s Trust does please visit The Prince’s Trust website.
We want to support as many organisations as possible across our network that support people impacted by homelessness.
The number of people sleeping on the streets in Britain has increased substantially in the past few years, but rough sleeping is just the most visible part of a much wider homelessness pandemic, with many people using foodbanks on a daily basis. We have a large role to play to support our communities, who provide support for people in need. What we can do to help is make the most of our network, used by thousands of people each day, to reach those who are willing to help. We pledge to support our local partners, including:
- Foodbanks and kitchens
- Homeless provisions and prevention services
- Fundraising initiatives
As an issue that impacts many local communities and the railway, homelessness is one of our main focus areas for the business.
In October 2020 GTR was the first train company to sign the Rough Sleeping on Rail Charter after it was launched by Secretary of State Grant Shapps MP and Andrew Haines, Chief Exec for Network Rail. The charter sets out the principles that guide the rail industries response, one of the key principles is empower staff to be able to provide help and support confident and be aware of the StreetLink – homeless reporting tool. In September 2020 we launched our Caring for the Vulnerable: Handling Homelessness e-learning module to 3,500 customer facing colleagues. This module focuses on shifting perceptions of homelessness and educating about StreetLink. The training is popular with customer facing colleagues.
December 2020 saw the us run the Great Sock Appeal – our annual charity campaign, for the second year, when we support six homeless charity partners across the our network. In 2019 we encouraged customers and colleagues to donate brand new pairs of socks to those in need. In 2020 we had to adapt due to the pandemic and take our collection online and encourage people to donate money instead, we raised enough to purchase over 1700 pairs of new socks for our homeless partners.
We always continuing to consider how we can support rough sleepers connect with outreach services and have the skills and confidence to rebuild their lives.
We want to support and promote positive mental health for our customers, communities and colleagues.
Studies show that 1 in 4 people are impacted by mental health issues at some point in their lives.
As a business it is important that we can recognise the signs when someone is in trouble – to reach out and help our customers, communities and colleagues who may be dealing with mental health issues.
We also work closely with the Samaritans and host annual ‘Have a brew’ events, as well as promoting general health and wellbeing for our teams.
Communities across our network use the railway on a daily basis; getting to work, travelling to school, family days out or visiting a friend. Our network also brings people together in more way that one. Our stations also play an active role in uniting people in local communities.
Many of our stations host local organisations or volunteer groups; providing opportunities for people to come together to improve the station environment.
There’s a great variety of projects across our route, but all are designed to benefit the community, the station and our passengers. Examples include:
- Improving the look of a station through a gardening project
- Adding extra colour through community artwork
- Introducing a book swap
- Community rail partnerships
Community Rail Partnerships
Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) are not-for-profit organisations that connect the railway with the communities they serve. They were initially set up to encourage people to use their railways, especially during off-peak times.
Today, CRPs works closely with train operators across the country, developing stations and supporting local economies.
We’re proud to provide support and core funding for 8 Community Rail Partnerships across Great Northern, Southern, and Thameslink.
Discover our local initiatives of corporate social responsibility, to benefit communities across our network by visiting the official sites for our companies: