HomeMental HealthHero among Heroes: Rizwan Javed, MTR Elizabeth line

Hero among Heroes: Rizwan Javed, MTR Elizabeth line

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Everyone put forward for Samaritans Lifesaver Award is a genuine, real-life hero. The Award recognises those who have demonstrated deep courage and compassion by being there for someone in crisis, supporting them, and keeping them out of harm’s way.

While all RailStaff Award nominees are outstanding individuals, only those put forward for this Award can say they have saved a life. Rizwan Javed took home the Award in 2018 for doing much more than that.

In at the deep end

In Rizwan’s first week of working on the railway in 2015, he attended a Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts training course on identifying and coping with potential suicides. Just one week later, he was alone on a platform when he noticed a vulnerable passenger.

“If it wasn’t for going on that Samaritans course, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to approach that passenger, help him deal with his issues and give him the help that he deserved to get him back on track. And I would like to think that he did get back on track and has made progress in his life.”

Working at Ealing Broadway for MTR Elizabeth line, the operator of the Elizabeth line, Rizwan went on to have more than 24 successful interventions (which has since risen to 29), earning his place in the RailStaff Awards hall of fame.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and to have the confidence to approach these people, build on that small talk, and potentially save many lives.

“Some people may look lost on the platforms, other people like to hide themselves away until they are approached, and some people you are fortunate enough to catch before they take that final step in front of a train.

“If I see people missing trains or going backwards and forwards to the edge of the platform, I feel I need to go and challenge that. Being in charge of the station, it’s my duty to make sure everyone at that station is safe.”

Witness to history

Since winning the award, Rizwan has continued work on the Elizabeth line, and has seen history being made.

“I’ve moved into the central section as a duty customer experience manager between Paddington and Whitechapel. My duties involve managing staff competencies, staffing levels, operations at the station, and making sure the station’s fit for purpose. It’s a wider section, so it’s been a promotion for me, with much more to learn.

“Working on the central section has felt like making history. I was here when Queen Elizabeth II opened the station, along with other dignitaries including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. I’ll always remember that as a highlight of my railway career.”

Mental health campaigner

Rizwan continues to raise awareness of mental health issues and has a profound impact on commuters. Working alongside Samaritans, he helps to promote their Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. This has drawn him much attention from the media, which is great for Rizwan and his wider mission.

“I do a lot of work with Samaritans. The last campaign I was involved with was earlier this year. Whenever they’re working on their Small Talk campaign, I’ll get involved. It’s good to get out there, meet people, share my story, and raise awareness. It’s about giving people the confidence to approach people who may be vulnerable and strike up a conversation which could save their lives.

“As a result of my work spreading awareness about mental health, I’ve made quite a few media appearances. I’ve been interviewed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and Islam Channel, as well as a few radio stations. It’s been a great experience, and it all started with winning the RailStaff Award.

“This exposure has helped to spread mental health awareness even further. Many people have reached out after my appearances who could relate to the issues I talked about. I’ve been able to help a lot more people because of that.”
Rizwan embodies everything that makes the RailStaff Awards so special. He is a true hero to many, many people, and deserves all the attention he gets!