Community Rail News – 1 April 2020

Community Rail News – 1 April 2020

1 Apr, 2020

Hello to everyone in community rail. We hope you’re keeping well. This week’s bulletin focuses on how community rail can stay active, productive and positive, continuing to make a difference to our communities, while looking to the future. We’ve got eight suggestions: some on supporting your communities now, and others about strengthening your position to help community rail redouble its efforts in the future.

Please note, we have also updated our basic advice for members on Covid-19, and remind you to also keep up-to-date with government advice, follow this, and share with others.

We’re also getting close now to our rebranding to the Community Rail Network (6 Apr) and looking at how we may need to reshape our events programme: see below for updates.


What can community rail do during lockdown?


1. Keep communicating, sharing and innovating

It’s never been more critical for us to keep talking to each other: friends, family, colleagues, contacts, volunteers, and everyone across the community rail family. We suggest you:

Use your communication channels to keep reminding everyone of why community rail matters, using #communityrail, and what you’ll be doing in the future.

Keep sharing life-saving messages on what we all need to do now.

Use our Facebook groups to share and discuss ideas on adapting

Help to ensure everyone in community rail is connected through following us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and signing up to our now weekly e-bulletin, Community Rail News.

Keep adapting, making use of technology. See our tips in last week’s bulletin.

Chat to our team for advice or to tell us what you’re up to. 


2. Promote wellbeing among volunteers and staff

Many members have been telling us how they are staying in touch with volunteers, staff and contacts, such as through regular ring-rounds and using social media to make everyone feel valued. It’s especially important for people who are vulnerable or self-isolating, but any of us could be feeling anxious at the moment.
There are some great resources on Mind’s website on wellbeing and mental health, including related to the Coronavirus, and for organisations.


3. Support local volunteering and neighbourliness

Communities across Britain are mobilising volunteers to support vulnerable people. Consider whether you and your team/volunteers might support efforts in your area, while not breaching government advice. Many local authorities are signing up volunteers, or there’s a national scheme, linking volunteers with opportunities, while keeping people safe. You could also consider if local partners, like support groups or community transport providers, need extra help, and/or simply promote good neighbourliness. See further advice, and let us know how you’re helping local efforts.


4. Be considerate to partners

Our partners within rail and local government are facing huge challenges to keep basic services going and ensure key workers and vulnerable people are supported. Many of our usual contacts are being redeployed, or having to deal with other, pressing priorities. We’re therefore encouraging all our members to be as supportive and considerate as possible. Think, can you use our team as a first port of call for your query?


5. Promote home schooling ideas and creativity

A big part of community rail is engaging children, young people and other groups, to build positivity, awareness and confidence about rail and your local area. While talks and try the train trips are off the cards, there’s a lot community rail can do to support home schooling.
For example, Transwilts CRP has gathered resources on their website, while Community Rail Lancashire is showcasing different materials each day on social media, while Penistone Line’s Dwell Time project has an open call for art and poetry trying to make sense of the situation. Tell us how you’re continuing to run creative and educational work, and we’ll be gathering everything together on our site too.


6. Develop your online presence

This is an ideal time to develop your online presence, and digital skills and awareness. We have several guidance sheets on communications and marketing, and can offer advice on developing your website, using social media, and sources of further help and expertise.
Our tourism officer Alice is also keen to work with CRPs to make sure the information on your line(s) on Scenic Rail Britain is up-to-date and promotes the tourism ‘offer’ on your line effectively. This will help people plan sustainable and exciting trips for the future.


7. Plan ahead, and schedule accreditation

This is also a good time to take stock, review, and plan for how you’ll increase your impact in the future. Therefore, our team is moving ahead with accreditation renewals, using video conferencing, and supporting CRPs to ensure the process is as useful as possible. Thanks to East Suffolk Lines for having the first virtual accreditation meeting! Speak to your usual contact to book yours, and for advice on annual/project planning and upholding accreditation standards.


8. Look out for our updates

Keep reading these bulletins each Weds for updates from us, and ideas and examples from members. A few things coming up:

  • Our rebrand, to Community Rail Network, takes effect this Monday 6 April. We are moving ahead with this as we didn’t want to risk causing confusion by changing the plan at this late stage, and we continue to hope it will provide benefits and a boost across the movement. All our members and funders should have received a logo pack and briefing this week. Any queries, contact Nik.
  • We’re getting ready to open our Community Rail Awards for entries, while considering if we may need to push back the awards night itself. More on this soon.
  • We’re looking at swapping our usual summer seminars for bite-size online learning sessions. Watch this space.
  • Our new Impact tool will be launched next week. For those who want to give it a go, and start exploring how it could be useful for you, see next week’s bulletin.
  • We hope to open our small grants fund for 2020-21 soon – pending funds being confirmed. Funds are open for TfGM and SWR areas.

Keep safe and well,
Jools and Richard


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