Specially-trained rail pastors to patrol network to help the vulnerable and distressed
PUBLISHED: 10:11 13 May 2019
Rail pastors who help vulnerable people during their time of need, are now patrolling part of Greater Anglia’s network between Cambridge and Harlow Town.
Rail pastors patrol throughout the day and into the evening, visiting stations and boarding trains and helping anyone who is vulnerable, distressed, or in need of some help.
They can help people access any support services they may need, such as counselling.
Matthew Wakefield, Greater Anglia's head of safety, security and sustainability, said: "We are very pleased to welcome rail pastors to our west Anglia route. Pastors have patrolled our network between Shenfield and Colchester since January 2018 and have carried out some excellent work.
"We fully support any initiative which aims to keep people safe on our rail network, and we are extremely grateful to the rail pastors for volunteering their time to care for others.
"As well as looking out for suicidal or vulnerable people travelling they provide assistance to anyone - this includes travelling on trains with confused or anxious people ensuring they get to where they need to go, or just offering reassurance and a friendly face."
Rail pastor, Phil Norton, said: "We are a very gentle, non-judgmental group of people who are here to support those who are vulnerable or simply need someone to talk to.
"We have enjoyed patrolling the railway in Essex for the past year and we are very pleased to be available to those travelling on Greater Anglia's West Anglia route."
Pastors are easy to identify and wear a bright blue uniform. They support those who are vulnerable or simply need someone to talk to.
In order to become a rail pastor, volunteers first undertake the street pastor training. Training to become a street pastor takes a minimum of three months.
Rail pastors is an initiative of Ascension Trust, supported by and in partnership with British Transport Police, train operators, Network Rail and Samaritans, and aims to save lives and reduce disruption on the rail network.
All rail pastors have also completed the Samaritans' managing suicidal contacts course, which has been undertaken by thousands of rail workers across the country.