Press release -
Don’t be blue – have a brew, say GTR and Samaritans as 60 railway colleagues are recognised for rescuing vulnerable people
Update 15:00 hours 18 Jan: Lifesaving statistic has been updated to 'more than 400 interventions'
18 January 2021: Govia Thameslink Railway and the Samaritans are highlighting how taking the time to talk could be life-saving, as the nation approaches ‘Blue Monday’ on 18 January, said to be the most difficult day of the year.
Replacing ‘Blue Monday’ with ‘Brew Monday’, the train firms of GTR - Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink - will be working with the Samaritans to turn 18 January on its head and into something positive by encouraging the public and colleagues to get together over a warming virtual cuppa and have a chat this winter.
A special animated illustration by renowned children’s author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy is being displayed across GTR’s digital station screens and on social media all week (from 18 January) to encourage people to have a virtual cuppa and a chat https://youtu.be/H4psL3NUR14
Julie Bentley, Samaritans’ CEO, said: “We’re so grateful to the rail industry for their support of Brew Monday this year. The challenges that many people face during this season have been felt even more acutely this year with the pandemic restrictions. At Samaritans, we know how powerful talking and listening, even if it is virtually, can be. It doesn’t have to be a Monday or a cup of tea, it’s about taking the time to really listen and supporting one another, which could potentially save a life.”
GTR Suicide Prevention Manager Laura Campbell said: “The third Monday of January can be difficult. Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are long gone, credit card bills are landing on the doormat, days are short and cold and – worst of all – we’ve a Covid pandemic and national lockdown.
“As well as promoting this great Samaritans initiative to passengers across our network, we’ll be encouraging our own staff, who are out on the front line, to share a socially-distanced or virtual cup of tea with British Transport Police and Network Rail colleagues, while keeping the service running for other key workers.”
Lifesaving railway colleagues
The initiative comes after almost 60 GTR colleagues were recognised with Samaritans-sponsored Lifesaver Awards for their compassion and bravery in putting their Samaritans’ training and listening skills to the test by helping vulnerable people to safety.
GTR’s rail staff often find themselves on the frontline of helping those most in need. Last year alone, they made more than 400 lifesaving interventions, either through conversations or physically intervening when someone tried to take their own life.
Laura explained: “Starting a conversation with someone who is trying to hurt themselves or someone who feels they want to end their life isn’t easy. That’s why it’s so important that we recognise those who go out of their way to help.
“It's been a challenging year for many of us and showing some compassion and a willingness to take time to listen could be all that it takes to get someone the help they need to put them on the road to recovery, which is the essence of Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign too.”
You can read about some of GTR’s lifesavers here:
1. South London station assistant Kayode (“Kay”) Awote, who helped four vulnerable people to safety – two who were close to taking their own lives, and two children running away from home. Read Kay's story here.
2. Station Assistants Sarah and James and Station Supervisor Tony – all have helped people to safety when they tried to take own lives. Read Sarah, James and Tony's story here.
3. Railway couple Agy & Paul O'Brien worked together to save a man's life. Read Agy and Paul's story here.
4. GTR is the only train operating company to have a dedicated Suicide Prevention Manager. Read Laura's story here.
5. Kelly Holyoake is a train dispatcher, but her role sees her dealing with vulnerable people everyday. Read her story here.
Notes to editors
Brew Monday, 18 January
View the Brew Monday campaign video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VD8lpiTb9O0&feature=youtu.be
Supporting Brew Monday and helping spread the message to passengers is renowned author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy. The uplifting and inspiring drawings, from his bestselling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse have brought comfort to many.
Now Charlie has created a bespoke animated illustration of the Mole asking to share a slice of cake with a friend to connect for Brew Monday, which will be displayed across GTR’s digital station screens and on social media this week to reach passengers. View the animation here: https://youtu.be/H4psL3NUR14
GTR has redoubled its focus on employees’ wellbeing throughout the pandemic with a wide range of support in place. On Brew Monday, GTR CEO Patrick Verwer is sending a video message to all 7,500 colleagues of Great Northern, Southern Gatwick Express and Thameslink, reminding them to take time out to check in with one another and other railway partners. The firm’s LGBT+ executive is also holding a virtual ‘Tea at 3’.
Suicide Prevention on the GTR network
GTR works side-by-side with charities such as the Samaritans to train and offer support and guidance for its staff when dealing with difficult scenarios, and with Network Rail and the British Transport Police to support people across its network.
Additionally, TRiM (Trauma Risk Management) training, as well as occupational health and further support is provided to all employees so that they are able to look after passengers, themselves and each other.
As part of its long-term strategy, GTR aims to reduce the number of incidents on the railway.
Last year, across the GTR network there were 426 GTR interventions, with a 57% increase in lifesaving interventions since 2019.
Given the importance of this issue nationwide, GTR encourages others to develop a greater depth of understanding of the complexities and issues associated with suicide as a year-round priority.
Alongside its comprehensive, always-on Suicide Prevention programme, GTR marked World Suicide Prevention Day in September with a team of artists spraying motivational “Affirmation” messages in chalk across station entrances and exits.
Samaritans’ new research with over 1,400 of the charity’s volunteers found that the start of the cold days and long nights over winter heighten feelings of isolation and loneliness for those already experiencing loneliness due to the pandemic restrictions.
Samaritans volunteer insights is related to the three months between August to October and was carried out in October 2020.
A total of 1,439 volunteers responded to the survey.
Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samaritans.org.
Samaritans has worked in partnership with the rail industry and the British Transport Police to reduce suicides on the railway for over 10 years. This includes training rail staff to look out for people who might need help and start a conversation, offering their support and getting them to safety. To date, over 22,000 rail staff and BTP officers have been trained in suicide prevention.
Every seven seconds, Samaritans responds to a call for help.
Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 volunteers that mean we are always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us or volunteer with us.
You can follow Samaritans on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
We do not share details of locations of incidents. This follows media guidelines for safe reporting of suicide which are available here.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London 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