Red Balloon, founded in Cambridge 21 years ago to support and educate children and youngsters bullied to such a degree they can’t stay at school, has been given a year’s free travel with Great Northern, the rail company operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
Senior staff of Red Balloon have been given five named passes to travel anytime on Great Northern into London. In addition staff and students can request free travel passes when they need to travel on the Great Northern network to attend meetings or go on residential trips or other educational outings.
Founder and President Dr Carrie Herbert said: “People have no idea how amazing these tickets are. The passes not only save us valuable money that we use to support our students instead, but give me complete flexibility at the drop of a hat to go anytime, peak or off-peak, to London, Westminster, to meet with politicians and persuade them to take seriously the needs of bullied people forced out of school. A lot of our generous donors also live in London.”
Chairman of Trustees, Mike Frankl, said the tickets also helped them visit their Learner Centres in places like Harrow, on the Thameslink route. “As well as our Learner Centres we also have our online Learner Centre, Red Balloon Of The Air. In Cambridge alone, this and the Learner Centre is supporting well over 80 students.”
GTR’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Andy Harrowell said: “We’re proud to continue our long association with Red Balloon by providing this free travel. We know it makes a real difference both financially and to the charity’s efforts to influence politicians of the very real need of children and youngsters bullied or traumatised to such a degree that they can no longer continue in regular education.”
In England alone, 16,000 children aged 11-16 are too frightened to go to school because of bullying. They are traumatised and isolated. Anxiety, depression and self-harming are common and so are suicides or suicide attempts. With no education and severe mental health problems these young people face a bleak future.
At Red Balloon’s centres in Cambridge, Norwich, NW London and Reading, as well as through our national online provision ‘Red Balloon of the Air’, we provide a unique recovery programme comprising 50% education and 50% wellbeing. It is designed to rebuild those young people’s self-esteem so they can return to an academic path and re-engage with society.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria
GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff. The operator carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.
Ticket revenue is passed to the government, which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise. The fee is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.
Southern has the fastest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry as a whole doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.
GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.
The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network.
GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.
The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.