Staff from Thameslink and Great Northern last week spent an afternoon with Dr Carrie Herbert MBE, founder and president of the charity Red Balloon Learner Centres. They discussed the fact that bullying does not just happen in schools but outside the school gates - and of course on public transport and trains.
The session gave the staff the chance to define bullying, discuss the ways in which it can happen, the impact of bullying on the target, how to identify a bullied or intimidated child as well as looking at options for dealing with it - from speaking to the children concerned to identifying their uniform and contacting the relevant school. The event concluded with the group discussing the experiences they had had in the past, the steps they had taken then, and exploring ways to support young people in the future.
Red Balloon Learner Centres offer young people who have been severely bullied or traumatised, a full time education in a small centre. Here they have the opportunity to regain their confidence and their sense of self-worth, get back on an academic track and in due course return to mainstream education.
Sandra Kember, Revenue Protection Inspector, from Cambridge, said: "It was a good session because it identified other ways from what we call the 'norm' in which people can be bullied. It also highlighted how we as staff can take control of these situations and prevent them from continuing."
Carrie said: “Working with the team from Thameslink and Great Northern, who are committed to ensuring that travel is safe for all travellers, whether going to school or work, was a delight. It is important that children and their parents can be confident that bullying will not be tolerated on trains and that it will not pass unnoticed by staff."
The training session builds on the relationship the train company and Red Balloon have developed over the past few years. Part-sponsoring research into the efficacy of Red Balloon's provision, "Red Balloon - Does It Work and Is It Worth It?", Great Northern sponsored a reception at Speaker's House in November to launch the first part of this important work. An electronic copy of the report is available from www.redballoonlearner.org.
Notes to editors
Red Balloon Learner Centres have successfully recovered more than 400 children who self-excluded themselves from school because they were either severely bullied or experienced a traumatic event in their life. Red Balloon has centres in Cambridge, North West London, Norwich and Reading and students mainly in Cambridgeshire and Essex studying via Red Balloon of the Air.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) began running Thameslink (Bedford to Brighton, Sutton and Wimbledon) and Great Northern (London to Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn) rail services on 14 September 2014. A small number of services and stations previously operated by Southeastern transferred to GTR in December 2014 and on 26 July 2015 the Southern and Gatwick Express routes were incorporated into the franchise. GTR is now the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 273 million passenger journeys per year, employs around 6,500 people and generates annual passenger revenues of approximately £1.3bn. www.thameslinkrailway.com