The Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership (CRP) is working with Refugee, Asylum Seeker & Migrant Action (RAMA) to help refugees and asylum seekers adapt to life in Essex.
They recently hosted 47 people – from countries such as Albania, South Sudan, Kuwait, Russia and Iran – who are now living in Colchester, on a day trip by train to find out about how to use public transport and where to explore further afield.
Travelling on a special Greater Anglia ‘Bucket and Spade’ train from Colchester Town on 4 August, they visited Walton-on-the-Naze and enjoyed a magician on board the train to entertain the children, as well as a complimentary lunch, both provided by Essex Path to Prosperity.
Every child on board also received a free bucket and spade as part of the event.
Terri Ryland of the Essex and South Suffolk CRP, said: “Every summer, we run a series of ‘Bucket and Spade’ train trips in partnership with Greater Anglia to offer local families a bargain day out at the seaside and demonstrate how easy it is to get there by train.
“This event was even more special as it was a Bucket and Spade train for refugees who are new to the area. It was great to see them all really enjoying the fun on board and the wonderful sea and sand at Walton-on-the-Naze.
“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 with RAMA will help them to feel more integrated and confident about exploring their new surroundings.
“We are extremely grateful to Greater Anglia and to Essex Path to Prosperity project for supporting this event and working with us to bring rail to the heart of a community which can often feel quite isolated.”
Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said: “We were pleased to support this vital work by RAMA and the Essex and South Suffolk CRP which is helping people to use public transport safely and with confidence and connecting them to new opportunities and experiences.”
You can keep up to date with future events from Essex and South Suffolk CRP via their website.