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East Suffolk Lines CRP helps refugees feel confident travelling by train

East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has facilitated day trips by train to support refugees and asylum seekers in using public transport and explore further afield in their new county.

Travelling on a Greater Anglia train from Ipswich, the group went on a ‘Welcome Walk’ to explore the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Saxmundham, led by the team from The Art Station.

Aaron Taffera, Chair of the East Suffolk Lines CRP, said: “We were delighted that everyone enjoyed the opportunity to find out more about the area where they live. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have to flee your country and start again in an unknown place – I hope that our ongoing work will help them to feel more integrated and confident about exploring their new surroundings.

“We are extremely grateful to Greater Anglia for supporting this event and working with us to bring rail to the heart of a community which can often feel quite isolated.”

Shamaila Waddle, Project Manager (Adult Social Action) at Volunteering Matters, said: “We are extremely grateful to the organisations that have facilitated safe and supportive ‘Welcome Walks’ for our asylum-seeking communities dispersed in hotels.

“The series of therapeutic coastal and nature walks offered a new and unique experience to many. The events have been extremely popular amongst the participants, especially women and children who are isolated in hotels and have limited means and resources to be out and about without any support.

“Participants shared that the initiative has had a very positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing and has greatly contributed towards integration with the local communities. With sincere gratitude, we are hopeful that our partner organisations will continue to support our disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.”

Nick Collinson, Chair of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: “We firmly believe that Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty should be accessible to everyone, and we know the power and benefits that being outdoors amongst nature can have on people.

“Partnership working is what Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty do best, and this project is a great example of local organisations working together to support refugees and other vulnerable people in Suffolk and Essex.”

Keep up to date with future news, projects and events from the East Suffolk Lines CRP via their website.