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Seven years saving lives

Partnerships in industry are usually measured in terms of turnover and on-time delivery – few are judged on their value to society.

Samaritans has been working with Network Rail, the British Transport Police (BTP) and the industry as a whole for the past seven years to prevent suicide on the railway. Thousands in the industry have completed the suicide prevention course offered to staff through the programme and a good number of these have gone on to save lives on the rail network.

Fall in rail suicides

Figures released by the RSSB have shown that railway suicides fell by 12 per cent in 2016/17. Samaritans says they are now seeing more than a thousand interventions reported every year, many by employees that have completed the training.

The strength of the programme is demonstrated by its presence across the network. In April Samaritans volunteers worked alongside rail staff from London Midland, Virgin Trains, Network Rail and British Transport Police to raise awareness of the charity’s service at stations across the West Midlands.

Although the training course represents a large part of what the partnership does, it also provides a support service to help staff and passengers following traumatic incidents.

Around five per cent of all suicides in Britain occur on the rail network. Many passengers will have seen the Samaritans posters at stations around the network which seek to highlight that help is available for those who are struggling to cope.

The joint initiative between the industry and Samaritans is well known and well respected, but those close to its work will still say there is much more still to do.

Samaritans is once again backing the Lifesaver Award at this year’s RailStaff Awards evening. Since 2012, the RailStaff Awards has been recognising those who have made a life- saving intervention. In many cases nominations tell the stories of railway staff and BTP officers who have made an intervention to prevent someone from taking their own life.

Says Ola Rzepczynska, the strategic programme manager at Samaritans, ‘Samaritans are delighted to be sponsoring the Lifesaver Award for the sixth year in a row.

‘We have been working with the rail industry since 2010 on the suicide prevention programme and have delivered our suicide prevention courses to over 13,000 staff, giving them the tools to be able to help vulnerable and potentially suicidal people on the network.

‘During this time there have been many examples of potentially life-saving interventions by rail industry personnel and British Transport Police officers all over England, Scotland and Wales. Approximately 1,500 interventions have been carried out since April last year.’

Courage and recognition

Abellio Greater Anglia’s Scott Paton won last year’s award. He spoke positively about the training course, believing it gave him the confidence to make the approach that gained him the nomination.

Ola added, ‘All of the individuals involved have proved that having the courage and taking the time to talk and listen to someone in need can make a real difference to a person’s life.

‘It is fantastic that we are able to recognise the huge positive difference that rail industry staff have been making on the network at the RailStaff Awards this year by sponsoring the award once again.’

If you know someone who has made a life-saving intervention, nominate them now for the 2017 RailStaff Awards at www.railstaffawards.com/nominate