The Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP) worked with East Midlands Railway and the National Citizen Service (NCS) as part of the volunteering element of their programme, to deliver a “Try the Train” experience to Skegness. The CRP secured funding from EMR which enabled 14 students from the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) department of Nottingham College to enjoy a three day programme of events.
The three day project saw the students have a tour of Nottingham station which included a rail safety talk, how to buy a ticket, how to find the correct platform and how to ask for help. The Poacher Line CRP produced a “Try the Train” booklet which contained a quiz on all that they had learned, which they completed on their journey out to Skegness during day two. Despite very wet conditions the students thoroughly enjoyed themselves, with most not having been to the seaside before and some even tried traditional Fish & Chips! Day three and the students took the train out to Sleaford station to work with James and Luke from Imageskool a local urban artist to create a mural on the subway there. The design reflected the skyline of Sleaford and some RAF Heritage.
The students had a wonderful time and all commented on how much confidence they had gained during the three day project and the subway at Sleaford has been turned into a bright and cheery space. Every member of the passing public commented on how much the artwork had improved the area. As an surprise to the students the CRP provided a goody bag filled with Christmas goodies as a thank you and have arranged for complimentary return train tickets for them each to experience Skegness in the summer months.
Jo Andrews, Community Rail Officer for the Poacher Line, said: “We were delighted to partner with the NCS project team and get involved with the volunteer element of their programme. It has been a fantastic project and we are pleased we could offer a rewarding experience to those young people who have never been on a train before in the UK or had not been to the beach. The weather was against us but the students had a wonderful time and we now have an amazing piece of artwork on the subway at Sleaford, which was a previously neglected space but is now bright and cheery for all to enjoy”.
Kaye Robinson, Community Ambassador at East Midlands Railway, said: “Many of the group have never been on a train before or been to a station, so being a part of a project which helps them to understand how to use the network was very rewarding. Breaking down the barriers which stop people using services such as the railway is so important. We don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed or intimidated when using the rail network.”