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Women in Community Rail celebrate first birthday of southern branch

Women in Community Rail (WiCR) provide us with an update on their first birthday celebrations from WiCR South and highlights from recent meetings.

First year achievements

After the official business of the AGM was completed (including a warm welcome to Ben Walsh,a new steering group member), WiCR South took time to look back on their achievements in an eventful first year.

Breathing Space events
These popluar online monthly lunch-hour sessions have covered a number of issues of interest or concern to those involved in community rail. The sessions were free to attend and have been well received by members. Topics covered in the sessions have included:

  • Working in isolation: an open forum discussion on working from home;
  • Mental health awareness: how to care for our own and others’ mental health;
  • New to community rail? A chat over a cup of Equalitea;
  • The impossible dream? Maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Training slides and handouts from these sessions are on the WiCR website under Events and Training.

Sprout Pencils
Edna Woname brough a new concept to the group… sprout pencils. What are they you may ask? They are pencils with a small packet of seeds attached to the end instead of the usual eraser. A pencil for writing then something to plant the attached seeds with. What a great idea! Edna has challenged WiCR members to recruit new members to the organisation, for which they will be rewarded with a welcoming gift of a sprout pencil.

Rail to Refuge
Originally an initiative by Southeastern Rail, Jo Bridger explained that all TOCs now offer free train travel to ensure women and their children can leave a violent or abusive situation and get themselves to a refuge. This has been even more vitally important during lockdown,as abuse is known to have increased,and the scheme has helped hundreds of families in the last year. Sadly, 60% of abused women can’t leave home as there isn’t enough refuge accommodation. If they do manage to secure a place, this scheme enables them to escape their situation.

Looking  forward to next year
Further Breathing Space sessions are planned as these have proved popular with members. Future topics are set to include:

  • Risk assessments for events;
  • Events management;
  • Hosting hybrid events.

WiCR members will be informed of these upcoming events via their WiCR e-blast newsletter.

Future aims

WiCR is looking toward the future with a number of aims to strengthen

  • To become ‘the voice of community rail’;
  • Increase membership;
  • Focus on networking and mentoring;
  • Work towards improving inclusivity;
  • Encourage more young people to join community rail.