On 24 August, the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (CRP) and Northern supported the Bradford-based Refugee Action Group by offering families a scenic trip along the Bentham Line to the seaside at Morecambe.
It was a special day for the seven participating families, who have come to Britain from Sudan, Kuwait, Palestine, Russia, Albania, and Kurdistan (Iraq).
The visit provided an opportunity for the families to experience a train journey and discover a different part of their new home country. Many of the families have not travelled independently to other parts of Britain, and as a result lack the knowledge and confidence to access a new place such as Morecambe. The visit offered respite from their day-to-day worries and made a big difference for the families, many of whom had not travelled by train or visited the seaside before.
The group travelled from Bradford Forster Square to Morecambe supported by the CRP’s Partnership Officer Catherine Huddleston, who met them on the train and guided them around Morecambe.
Upon arrival, the group enjoyed a picnic on the seafront before visiting the former Morecambe Promenade Railway Station (now the Platform Entertainment venue) to see Mysterrasaur, a puppet show about dinosaurs.
Afterwards, the families walked along the promenade to the Clock Tower and enjoyed a couple of hours on the beach – building sandcastles, looking for shells and having a paddle in the sea.
On the return journey, the CRP presented the families with copies of the Bentham Line’s ‘A Grand Day Out to the Seaside’ children’s story book, as a souvenir of their visit.
Christy Bischoff, ‘Experts by Experience Coordinator’ for the Bradford-based arm of Refugee Action, said: “We want to say a big thank you for the support and organisation provided by the CRP. We especially appreciated Catherine’s help in making our trip to Morecambe possible. It was such a special day out and would not have been possible without her assistance.
“The highlight for the group was definitely spending time on the beach, watching the children play so freely by building sandcastles and digging holes. The atmosphere was joyful and relaxed, as some families walked on the promenade and others walked down to the sea.”
Rod Tickner from the Leeds-Morecambe CRP said: “The CRP has promoted and supported visits by train to Morecambe for some years now, for various groups, and we were delighted to welcome this new party from the Refugee Action Group. We hope we can make such a visit an annual event, not only offering a fun day out but also giving encouragement to participants.”
Quotes from some of the participants include:
“I loved everything, especially the train ride. There was such beautiful scenery along the way. We feel more confident now to get on the train and visit nice places in our area. Thank you.” – Father of four
“Today I dug a big hole, and it was so fun. It was so big I couldn’t even get out of it. I loved the day. If I wasn’t here, I would have just spent the whole day sleeping because there is nothing to do.” – 11-year-old girl
“It has been great to be on the trip with the group. We are so grateful to the organisations and train company who made it possible. We will come again as we now know it is straightforward and easy to get here.” – Father of two
“Today I liked building sandcastles and playing in the mud and water. I especially liked squirting my sister.” – 7-year-old girl
“Thank you, it was a great day out and if we did not come on the trip, we would be home bored, depressed and my kids would have just slept all day. We are so happy to come and see them playing.” – Mother of two
You can keep up to date with future projects and events from the Leeds-Morecambe CRP via their website.