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Life changing project set to protect vulnerable youngsters on the rail network


Vulnerable young people travelling on trains are being kept on the right tracks by an innovative new project in Nottinghamshire.

The Railway Children is an organisation aiming to deliver an 18-month initiative which will identify and safeguard vulnerable young people using the rail network, while preventing harm and reducing risky behaviour.

They plan to do this along the Robin Hood railway line between Nottingham and Worksop by bringing together local stakeholders, including East Midlands Railway and Northern Rail.

The project will be the first cross-network campaign involving the Railway Children to take place in the UK after being granted £35,000 of funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Make Notts Safe Innovation Fund.

Corey is a teenager who was referred to the Railway Children by the British Transport Police when he required help in Lancashire.

He believes the work being done on the Robin Hood line can be life changing for the vulnerable young people needing support.

He said: “I’ve come on leaps and bounds from where I was when it started. Mentally, physically and emotionally the Railway Children have helped and there has not been any point since the first chat that I felt like I couldn’t go to them.

“There aren’t many occasions where I now feel sad, and if things do start to get too much for me I know I’ve got somewhere to turn.

“They never make you feel uncomfortable or make you do something you don’t want to. It goes at a pace you’re comfortable with and gives you the belief that there is hope and a possibility to reach new heights.”

David Bentley, Training, Development and Youth Participation Manager at Railway Children, said: “Some of the issues we’ve found on the Robin Hood Line are things like county lines where young people are trafficked up and down the country to sell drugs.

“There are also people fleeing violence, harm or abuse by getting on the next train and getting out of there.

“We know through working with Northern Rail and East Midlands Railway is that often the Robin Hood Line can pose problems with issues occurring up and down the network.

“There are things we can address through our safeguarding action group where we bring together professionals to keep people safe.”

Last year, trailblazers were urged to think outside the box for ways to tackle crime after £150,000 was made available through the launch of the Make Notts Safe Innovation Fund.

Applications were invited from community organisations throughout Nottinghamshire with all applications undergoing a robust assessment process.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “I’m keen to fund innovative projects where preventing crime from happening, responding to a new emerging need, and supporting victims is at the forefront of our thinking.

“Young people being vulnerable on the railway is not unique to Nottinghamshire. It’s an issue that goes across the country, but we are determined to do something about it on the Robin Hood Line.

“We all use the trains but don’t always spot what might be happening, there are vulnerable young people across the county who need our help.”

The Railway Children is one of four organisations successful in their applications, with Nottingham-based children’s charity Imara, YMCA Newark and Sherwood and Broxtowe Women’s Project granted funding for innovative projects.

Clive Collings, Nottinghamshire Police’s Neighbourhood’s Chief Inspector for Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, said: “Policing has changed a lot since I first joined in the late 1990s, and something that I think we’re very much more aware of now is vulnerability and how that links to exploitation.

“This sort of project is really important because it helps to safeguard the young people who are using the rail network, and makes it a more inviting place for the general public while disrupting criminal behaviour.

“Education is key in getting young people to understand how their behaviours are sometimes risky even though they may not be aware of it.

“The work done with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Railway Children and the rail network is an exciting project for Nottinghamshire Police to be involved in because we’re very aware that tackling exploitation is a team effort.”

Ian Furniss, Community Safeguarding and Security Manager at East Midlands Railway, said: “The Robin Hood line historically is an area where we know there are vulnerable people travelling, so any opportunity we can take to look after them is key.

“We welcome working collaboratively, so the £35,000 of funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is a massive boost for us in assisting the work we’re trying to do.

“The most important thing is to make people to get on our trains feeling safe and supported, knowing they can approach a member of staff with their concerns and report them.”

Find out more about the Innovation Fund HERE

Posted on Friday 8th March 2024
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