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Education and youth engagement secondment

Karen at the launch of the Sustainable Travel Education Toolkit on Wednesday 12 October at the National Railway Museum. Photo credit: Chris Peach, iCreation.

The Community Rail Network team will be joined by Karen Bennett, Community Rail Lancashire’s education team leader, on a secondment from 1 January 2023, initially for six months, three days a week.

Karen will help Community Rail Network step up its activity supporting members and developing educational work, schools and youth engagement across the community rail movement. As part of her role as education and youth engagement adviser Karen will continue to run, build and draw on the Community Rail Education Network, bringing this under the Community Rail Network’s umbrella.

This move follows discussions between Community Rail Lancashire (CRL) and Community Rail Network to look at the continued growth and development of community rail’s educational work, schools and youth engagement, and how this could build on the expertise and experience of CRL and others spearheading good practice in other parts of Britain.

CRL has run the Education Network for several years, and moving the Network’s meetings online during the pandemic enabled community rail officers and rail industry partners across the country to take part and contribute. As well as offering a forum to share ideas and advice, the Education Network has delivered projects including Backtrack, Arlo’s Adventures and the UK’s first Sustainable Travel Education Toolkit.

Karen (front centre) with participants involved in CRL’s 100 Women 100 Journeys project.

Community Rail Network is keen to provide enhanced support and leadership across its growing membership on schools and youth engagement. It is hoped that Karen’s secondment will help to build on the vital work already undertaken by the Education Network, supporting increased partnership working between community rail, and rail industry, and other partners in education and youth services.

Karen will continue to work at CRL for two days a week, where she will focus on developing CRL’s growing education team.

Richard Watts, Chair of CRL, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Karen. Since the pandemic, the Education Network has gone nationwide, and this secondment will enable Karen to use her expertise alongside that of Community Rail Network to make the Education Network the go-to place for Community Rail Officers wanting to find out more about how to engage with schools, young people and community groups.”

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “We are excited about drawing on CRL’s long-running experience in engaging schools, children and young people with local railways, to spread more of this important work across Britain via the growing community rail movement. It’s so crucial that we empower younger generations to feel confident and able to use rail and other sustainable modes, to access the opportunities they want, without adding to pollution, traffic and the climate crisis. Karen’s secondment will help the community rail movement to step up its work in this crucial area.”

You can contact Karen from 1 January onwards in her new role at Community Rail Network via