On Wednesday 13 May, seven CRPs from across the SWR network came together virtually with the operator to share projects undertaken since lockdown, and discuss ideas for continuing to support communities and the industry in the weeks to come.
Those involved heard about how the Isle of Wight and Lymington to Brockenhurst CRPs had diverted funding provided by SWR for their annual ‘Music on the Move’ performances to setup the wonderful ‘Food on the Move’ project, working with local charities and suppliers on each line to organise meals for the most vulnerable. East Hants CRP shared the tale of its writing competition – Dreaming of an adventure by train – which had encouraged locals to share stories (actual or made up) about a trip they would like to take, or had taken, outlining the level of response the partnership had received and how it created a buzz on the Facebook page.
Separately, Purbeck CRP explained how they had been able to focus much more on the administration for setting up their first website, as well as completing their Accreditation review with the Community Rail Network. Devon and Cornwall RP rounded everything up by sharing how they had had to adjust their Jurassic Coast promotion due to COVID and lockdown.
Following this the group made the most of being together by discussing what could be done in the future to support local attractions, and the challenge of how you promote the railway when the national advice is about using other methods of transport. The CRPs are now looking at online ideas, especially around ways to remind people that CRPs are still focused on supporting their local communities.
Nick Farthing, chair of the Three Rivers CRP, added: “It was great to catch up. I feel more energised now!! Lots was discussed and shared and despite the current situation, there is still a lot of great work going on, which is good to know.”
Andy Harrowell, SWR’s community rail manager, said: “Since lockdown started, all the CRPs we fund have continued to work hard despite the national challenges, adapting plans and doing what they can to support local volunteers. This online get-together was a great opportunity to share examples of good practice, swap resources and remind us all that we’re a community ourselves. It was really nice to catch up and brainstorm thoughts and ideas together. This was a great example of collaboration from a distance and I thank everyone for getting so involved during the session.”