Rail pastors to patrol Greater Anglia network in Essex

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Rail pastors, who help vulnerable people during their time of need, will soon be patrolling part of Greater Anglia’s network in Essex.

Ten volunteers have been trained to work as rail pastors, and will provide support to passengers at stations and on trains between Shenfield and Colchester.

Rail pastors will patrol throughout the day and into the evening, visiting stations and patrolling 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.

Phil Norton, who has been a street pastor for five years, 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 will be dressed in a bright blue uniform, which is similar to the street pastor uniform. We are pleased to be able to offer our support to those in need.”

Rail pastors successfully operate in Barnet, Fife, and Reading. The scheme 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.

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.

All rail pastors have also completed the Samaritans’ Managing Suicidal Contacts course, which has been undertaken by thousands of rail workers across the country.

Jay Thompson, Head of Safety, Security at Sustainability at Greater Anglia, said: “We are very pleased to welcome rail pastors to our network in Essex. We already work closely with the British Transport Police, Samaritans and Land Sheriffs, and we believe the rail pastors will complement their great 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.”