Engaging young people through community rail is a project funded by the Department for Transport’s Tackling Loneliness with Transport Fund. It is being led by Community Rail Network with research partner the University of the West of England, and involves community rail partnerships and other youth and community partners running three pilot schemes in Bristol and Gloucester, Blackburn with Darwen, and Newcastle and County Durham.
David Littlefair, youth engagement project coordinator at Community Rail Network, gives an update below on activity that has taken place so far.
“The first few months of the project has been very busy with delivery in the three pilot locations. The young people who have been recruited for the project are involved in a mix of trips to local sites of interest and creative arts projects, learning about how using public transport can help enrich their lives and build new social connections.
“Delivering this project in autumn and winter has come with its fair share of challenges, but the team of staff from Catch 22 and the community rail partnerships involved have performed fantastically and scheduled a plethora of activities that navigated the unexpected, including rail strikes and big weather changes.
“To date, our pilots have run interventions with close to 200 young people. These have included trips to the Bristol coast with bush crafting lessons, workshops on music making that will lead to performances in stations and trips on rail, and short courses on creative writing with ESOL students, inspired by trips around Blackburn.
“While delivery has proceeded at pace, we’ve also worked with our academic partners at the University of West England and the DfT-appointed delivery partner to understand how to produce a project legacy that makes the case for how valuable these interventions are. The project’s legacy for community rail has taken a more concrete shape in the past month – we will have a significant amount of data and feedback that can be used to support the potential for similar initiatives to be rolled out in more areas, guidance on creating a similar projects (such as creating Logic Models) and the building of partnerships that can help community rail activity to spread to more places and youth engagement settings.
“There are a lot of lessons that have been learned along the way, and we will be looking at ways to disseminate these around the community rail network in the early part of next year.”