Greater Anglia staff help to save lives across East Anglia

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Greater Anglia colleagues who have completed a Samaritans course are helping to save more lives on the railway than ever before.

More than 15,000 rail workers across the country have completed Samaritans’ Managing Suicidal Contacts Course, which provides rail workers with the skills and confidence to support people in need on the railway.

And in 2017 there were 60 interventions on the Greater Anglia network – around five every month.

This figure has increase year-on-year; in 2015 there were 37 interventions and in 2016 there were 43 interventions. These figures have coincided with a 17% reduction in suicides on the rail network since 2015.

Samaritans’ Managing Suicidal Contacts course is a one-day course tailored specifically to people working within the rail industry. It focuses on the benefits of a short conversation with someone who may be experiencing suicidal feelings and the techniques required to sensitively support that person and help begin their recovery.

These emotional ‘first aid skills’ are also beneficial when responding to family and friends who may visit the location following a loved one’s death and when supporting a colleague affected by trauma. They are also valuable in our personal lives, listening to friends or family in need.

Scott Paton, Greater Anglia’s Right Time Railway Manager, won the Samaritans Lifesaver award for his outstanding efforts, after he intervened when a man was on the track at Hythe station in 2016. The MSC course gave him the confidence and skills to speak to the man and take him to a safe place.

Jay Thompson, Head of Safety, Security and Sustainability at Greater Anglia, said: “The MSC course has been very useful for our colleagues. Incidents of this nature are very distressing for all involved. In October 2017 there were 14 interventions on our network – the highest number ever recorded. I commend all of our colleagues who have helped to save lives.

“We have recently welcomed rail pastors on to our network who will be patrolling the line between Colchester and Shenfield. They are an extension of the street pastors and are there help anyone who is vulnerable or in need of help. We will continue to work with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the Samaritans to reduce the number of lives lost on the railway.”

These incidents can also cause lengthy delays to passengers.

Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts trainer Rob Christopher said: “Our Managing Suicidal Contacts course provides delegates with a greater understanding of how someone can reach a point of crisis, and gives them the skills to sensitively support that person by encouraging them to talk and knowing how to listen effectively. We know from experience that giving people the time and space to talk can make a real difference.”

Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of safety for Anglia, said: “Network Rail has trained nearly 200 of its staff in the Anglia region through its partnership with the Samaritans. The training has equipped them with the skills and confidence to identify and approach vulnerable people on the railway and lead them to a safe place. This is a great example of the kind of collaborative work the rail industry can undertake with our partners at Samaritans to help save lives.”

Number of interventions on the Greater Anglia network over the past three years:

2015 2016 2017
37 43 60