Concept and aims
Kent Community Rail Partnership (CRP) works with Five Acre Wood School, coordinating activities to empower students aged 16 to 25 with additional needs to feel valued in their community and develop skills through practical experiences.
Starting back in 2019, students at the school were tasked with devising and developing ideas to make improvements to Snodland Station, in particular, to create a more welcoming appearance to the station front. After giving presentations to the CRP and the station manager, the ideas were combined to form a station action plan.
Kent CRP initially worked with the group to transform an unsightly grassed area outside the station, plus its booking hall, with all activities linked to their coursework and portfolios. The partnership organised rail confidence and independent travel training to allow the students to visit the station and develop their ideas.
They formulated project plans and budgets, prepared the ground, built planters, researched flowers and plants to include, and designed and created artwork to enhance the station interior.
The transformation of the station was celebrated with an opening ceremony attended by all project partners and various local dignitaries and community representatives. The school became official station adopters at Snodland, with an ongoing commitment to maintain and develop the site. They also became an active member of the Medway Valley Line group, offering a youth voice on future projects and events.
Despite the onset of COVID-19, the students managed to keep the area attractive and welcoming to visitors, taking cuttings to grow new plants and replanting a section of the garden following work on the station footbridge.
The students continue to develop activities at the station, which gives them an enormous sense of pride and achievement, and their efforts have helped to reduce litter and anti-social behaviour. In addition to improving their teamwork and practical skills, the students have vastly improved the appearance of the station, its standing within the community, and its contribution to biodiversity. It is now acknowledged as one of the best kept gardens on the Southeastern network.
In 2022, all 160 students at the school, many of whom have non-visible disabilities or motor control difficulties, took part in the Sunflower Mural art project, designed to raise awareness of non-visible disabilities and celebrate people’s individuality and differences. Working in partnership with Southeastern, the school linked the project with the train operator’s ‘Just A Minute’ scheme, which recognises that some passengers may have non-visible disabilities and require additional support.
All students worked on sunflower designs during art and wellbeing lessons, before members of the local community helped to decide on the final images for the mural, which has now been installed at the station to universally positive feedback.