TCS London Marathon

London Marathon: South Western Railway’s Samaritans fundraising partnership

Rail professionals from South Western Railway (SWR) will be fundraising for Samaritans at this year’s TCS London Marathon, after the organisation was selected as the event’s official charity partner of the year.

Statistics have shown that one in five (20%) in the UK report experiencing suicidal thoughts – the equivalent of 10,000 of the marathon’s 50,000 participants. Samaritans answers a call every 10 seconds from someone in need of support.

SWR has a trio of workers running this year, including:

  • Gemma Deedat – train driver
  • Mel Rappini – HR business partner
  • James Stearn – duty control manager

Gemma decided to run after an incident on her route and hopes to raise awareness of the importance of Samaritans’ services.

Gemma Deedat

“I had not long come back from annual leave when the incident happened, and I’d only been driving on my own for seven months,” said Gemma.

“The British Transport Police, paramedics, and my train guard were really supportive. I have chosen to run for Samaritans because I am hoping it will show that calling them to speak with someone can make all the difference.”

Data from Samaritans suggests that around three-quarters (74%) of people are comfortable speaking about their mental health with family and friends, but less than half (45%) would be comfortable to discuss suicidal thoughts, illustrating the stigma around the issue.

Mel used Samaritans’ services to help navigate through difficult conversation with loved ones, which is the inspiration behind her run.

Mel Rappini

She said: “Samaritans gives so much out to other people all the time, and I have used the information on its website to help support close friends and family who have previously been going through a tough time.

“It was useful to understand how I can support them and know where they are coming from a little bit more.”

James is accustomed to how many people seek help through Samaritans through his work in the control centre.

“Samaritans support is not only as a voice in times of need, but also in training rail staff so that they feel confident to make interventions which could just save a life if someone is in crisis,” said James.

James Stearn

Head of security and safety assurance at SWR, Daniel O’Riordan, explained that the impact of his organisation’s longstanding collaboration with Samaritans is felt by all.

Daniel commented: “We’re committed to playing an active role in safeguarding everyone who uses the railway and ensuring everyone knows they are in a safe pair of hands.”

Everyone at SWR are extremely proud of all the runners at this year’s marathon and will be fully behind Gemma, Mel and James, added Daniel.

Image credits: iStock & Samaritans


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