Community Rail Cumbria and ACoRP welcomed over 30 participants to the first local Community Rail Networking and Skill Swap event. It took place at Holker Village Hall in Cark, a village on the iconic Furness Line. Delegates were volunteer station adopters from each of the stations along Lakes Line and Furness Line.
Station adopters are part of volunteer community organisations up and down Britain who contribute their time, skills and creativity into making local stations attractive, thriving community hubs, welcoming to both visitors and everyday commuters.
The Chair of Lakes Line and Furness Line CRPs, Tim Owen welcomed the station adopters. He gave the background to the government initiatives for station adoption, its development and immense social value – both for rail use but also for society and our communities as a whole.
Representatives from three of the groups held interesting presentations on their station experiences – Tricia Thomas from Friends of Grange Station/Grange Civic Society, David Stubbins from Friends of Cark Station, Mary Rossall from Friends of Kents Bank Station. Other groups shared their experiences and projects throughout the day.
ACoRP, as the national association for community rail partnerships, supported the event. Alex Peel, training & development coordinator held an engaging workshop as well as a presentation. Martin Keating, Northern‘s sustainability & communities manager, set the scene for rail/station adopters in the south of the county.
All railway stations in Cumbria have now adopted by a diverse range of community groups. Each station adoption group has its own specialism, skill set and unique circumstances. It could be the size of the station itself, dealing with regular vandalism or creating a community hub used for a local book exchange and poetry on the platform. The skill swap event took place as a unique opportunity for the volunteers to locally share their experiences, best practise and what worked for them.
The morning inspired for a possible event for Cumbrian Coast station adopters and for future events, workshops and gatherings. All in all, an excellent morning, with special thanks to Friends of Cark Station for arranging refreshments including lunch afterwards!
The feedback from the participants was excellent with comments such as; “realising how much voluntary work is going on throughout Cumbria”, meeting and talking with our groups – new ideas”, “sharing new ideas”, “every enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring” and “Sharing ideas and feel inspired by other peoples’ effort”