Guidance for community rail partnerships and station friends on the Coronavirus

Guidance for community rail partnerships and station friends on the Coronavirus

1 Apr, 2020

Updated 13 July 2020

We urge all our members in community rail to keep up-to-date with the latest government requirements and advice relevant to whether you’re in England, Scotland or Wales, whilst bearing in mind that these are regularly updated and vary between nations.


Meetings and working from home

We continue to advise members to work from home and run events and meetings online rather than in person (if you need advice on systems you can use then get in touch). This is in line with government advice and other umbrella organisations. We are seeing many of our members engaging with a wider variety of members and partners as a result of running meetings online.

Our team has switched all its meetings to phone/online, including planning and accreditation meetings with community rail partnerships.


Community rail events and networking

All of our events have been rescheduled or moved online and this will continue at least until the end of 2020. See our Events Diary for our upcoming webinars, to hear about good practice and connect with your fellow community railers. Our team can also put you in touch with other members if you’re looking for advice or experience on particular community rail activities.


Coping with change

We know this continues to be a difficult time for many of you, both professionally and personally. Do keep letting us know how you’re adapting, planning ahead and keeping going. Our training and development team have produced guidance on how to cope with change, which we hope is useful.

Make sure you’re keeping in touch with volunteers and contacts who may be feeling isolated and offer to help them where needed.


Volunteering and station adopters

Given the social distancing challenges on our rail network, most of the usual station adoption/friends activities continue to be paused for the time being. The only exceptions are where groups are given express permission from train operators that small numbers of volunteers may visit specific stations at certain, quiet times, while maintaining social distancing rules. Please continue to be aware that train operators have a lot of challenges at the moment and they are trying to balance government rules alongside competing needs.

If you are given permission to resume activities, make sure you:

  • wear face coverings while at stations, especially while passing through or in any under cover spaces, to protect others and set a positive example, while also continuing to maintain social distancing rules;
  • carry hand sanitiser, to help avoid using passenger facilities for hand washing and sanitising, and use it regularly in line with advice;
  • be aware of station ‘touch points’ (i.e. surfaces others are likely to touch, like railings and doors) and avoid touching these if possible, or otherwise sanitise hands before and afterwards;

If you are looking for ideas of activities you can continue to do locally without being on the station, see these ideas from one station adopter.


Advice on travel

We encourage our members to ensure they follow official government advice on using public transport, as it applies to your country (see EnglandScotlandWales) and to support advice from train operators locally. Community rail can also promote safe travel guidance for those who depend on public transport, including:

  • Do not travel if you feel unwell or have symptoms.
  • Continue to keep your distance and remain 2 metres away from other people. Even where the distance has been reduced to 1 metre, governments continue to recommend 2 metres.
  • Ensure you wear face coverings on trains at all times (guidance is available on how to make a simple one at home). This is mandatory in England and Scotland (in Scotland this also includes within stations), and three-layer coverings will be mandatory on public transport in Wales from 27 July.
  • It’s a good idea to keep face coverings on in public places, including at stations, to protect people around you. 
  • Wash your hands before and after your journey and carry your own hand sanitiser for use while travelling.
  • Travel during off-peak hours where possible. Be aware of restrictions specific to a station or train operator (some are now reservation only) and check websites and apps to see how busy trains are where this information is available.
  • Be alert to changes in how you enter and exit or move around stations. In some larger stations queueing systems have been introduced.


Communications and partnership working

Keep communicating with staff, volunteers, communities and partners, using phone, email, social media and online. Reinforce the sense of community and use the chance to plan ahead to positive work you’ll do together in the future. Consider new partners you could work with to help your community recover and rebuild.

Community rail’s role in promoting rail travel is likely to be doubly important in the future, to rebuild trust and positivity. Therefore, this may be a good time to review and improve communication channels, such as your website and social media use. For advice, see our resources.

Take care with communications that you couldn’t be seen to be breaching government advice. For example, if sharing a photo where people are not social distancing, be clear it’s from pre-Covid-19.


Supporting your community

Communities around Britain are finding ways to cope and build resilience, especially by mobilising volunteer support to assist the most vulnerable. Many local authorities are coordinating initiatives, and you may have local community groups that are looking for extra volunteer support. This is a good time to build stronger links and consider working together longer term.


Promoting home schooling and activities

A big part of community rail is engaging children, young people and other groups, to build positivity, awareness and confidence about rail and your area. Whilst we can’t run workshops or try the train trips at the moment, there’s a lot community rail can do to support home schooling and help people to keep active and positive at home.

For example, you can promote rail-related information and resources on your website, or social media, or promote a call out for people in your area to submit art or writing on a community rail or local theme, like favourite train trips or views. See these great examples on our website.


Supporting rail partners

Our partners in rail and local government are facing huge challenges. We encourage all our members to be as supportive and patient as possible, and consider if you can use our team as a first port of call for your query. At the same time, keep following partners’ updates, to see if there’s anything you can promote or support.


Further advice

Keep following government guidance for your part of the country (England, Wales or Scotland), and ensure staff and volunteers are up-to-date.

NCVO has specific guidance for the third sector. NCVO’s advice includes carefully managing your finances during this time; please talk to our team if you have any worries about your financial security.

Locality has produced a list of funding available to charities and the third sector during the pandemic.

The National Rail website includes the latest travel advice, as well as links to guidance from individual train operators, FAQs, details on how people can claim refunds on their tickets and how to use face coverings.

Our team is working from home and our office closed, but you can get in touch by email or mobile with any queries – see our meet the team page.

Please also make sure you’re signed up to our email bulletin, issued every Wednesday, for further advice on adapting, plus updates on our services and events. You can also keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook.


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