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Community Rail News – 3 March 2021

Hi everyone. We hope you’re all well. This week we’re updating on our Covid-19 guidance, how you can benefit from our grant schemes and PR campaigns, and news on our team.  
As always, scroll down for members and partners’ stories. If you have items for future bulletins, please email Nik.

Lockdown easing

You’ll all be considering what the recent announcements on lockdown easing mean for community rail. Having reviewed government rules, NCVO’s guidance on volunteering, and consulted the National Community Rail Steering Group, we have updated our Covid guidance. This includes some changes related to the coming weeks, dependent on government plans panning out as hoped, and subject to train operator permissions:

  • from 8 March, some groups may be able to resume limited, outdoors station volunteering activity in England, in groups of 2-3, up to two households, only as and when train operators give permission, with volunteers staying local, and following additional guidance here;
  • from 29 March, some groups may be able to resume outdoors station volunteering activity in England, in groups of up to six, only as and when train operators give permission, staying local, and following additional guidance here;
  • CRPs should continue to work from home, but we will continue to monitor official guidance and advise as this changes (in the meantime we continue to offer advice on remote/digital working and engagement);
  • We await further updates and specific dates on lockdown easing in Wales and Scotland, and will update our advice as appropriate;
  • We will also continue to monitor when the ‘essential travel only’ message is likely to change – currently potentially 12 April for England.

Some groups may not be able to resume activities in line with the dates above, dependent on the local situation and guidelines from the relevant train operator. In all cases, official rules and our supplementary guidance still stand to do with travel, sanitising, face coverings, social distancing, avoiding busy times, and the like: see further details here.

If you have any queries about what’s possible and appropriate where you are, speak to your support & development team contact, or train operator’s communities manager.

Support our PR campaigns

We’re encouraging all members and partners to engage with our regional/national media campaigns to highlight the good work going on in community rail and how this contributes to recovery:

  • 24 March: North, Scotland & Wales;
  • 31 March: South East, South West & Midlands.

Some of you have been contacted to feature in our releases directly, but all CRPs and station groups can use these dates to issue releases to your local media. A press release template for your area will be available next week, when a link will be sent to you. We only ask that you: (a) make sure to issue the release on the exact day of the campaign in your region; and b) only send to local papers/radio, and not regional media, as we’ll be contacting the latter. Please also look for and engage with the campaign on social media on these days, including sharing our regional briefings.

Integrated sustainable transport grants

We’re pleased to again be running this grant scheme, with £40k available in 2021-22, up to £8k per grant, aiming at supporting community rail initiatives to help better connect the railways with buses, community transport, walking and cycling. Read about projects funded in 2020-21, and see the form and criteria.
In terms of general community rail grants, we still have small grants available in the TfGM and SWR areas, and hope to announce the 2021-22 DfT Community Rail Development Fund and main small grants fund in coming weeks. Do speak to our support and development team for any funding advice.

Developing our team

We previously reported on changes within our management team after Anders Hanson left in December. We’re pleased to confirm we now have a head of people and funding just started, Sarah Fatica, who will lead on our general management, HR and funding. Our head of communications and policy, Sarah Chilton, will start on 1 April. See the team.
We are also excited to be recruiting a new community engagement coordinator to work with CRPs in Scotland on sustainable travel engagement (see advert).

Your next bulletin is on 3 March. Keep up-to-date in between on Twitter and Facebook.
Best wishes,
Jools and Richard

News from our members