Railway Children charity Sleepout

Railway Children Sleepout raising money to directly support vulnerable children

Looking past all the investment and infrastructure projects currently going on in rail, it is essential that those within the industry do all they can to help those who find themselves in desperate need of support. This is where the work of the Railway Children charity is key.

The charity supports children who have run away or been forced out of their home and find themselves suffering from violence, poverty, neglect and abuse. In many cases children use stations as a place to hide and escape from abuse which can make them vulnerable to exploitation.

In 2021 Railway Children directly supported over 21,000 children as they continue to support those living on the street.

This year the charity is looking to continue this outstanding work supporting vulnerable children by organising its annual Sleepout event.

The event will take place on March 31 and is sponsored by VolkerRail and supported by Network Rail.

The Sleepout will see industry leaders from across the rail sector spend a night sleeping on the floor of a railway station to raise awareness and funds to help vulnerable children.

Eight stations have signed up to take part in the initiative and these include: Glasgow Central, Derby, Leeds, Manchester Piccadilly, London Liverpool Street, Birmingham New Street, London Victoria and London Waterloo.

Katie Mason, Events Manager at Railway Children spoke on the importance of the Sleepout saying: “I think the work that we do is quite amazing.

“There's a lot of research that shows that children who run away often go on to become homeless adults, so [our work] is about preventing the problem of homelessness when they're older.

“The Sleepout is all about getting people to support us to raise money for us; and also it gives people an idea of what it's like not to have your bed for the night.”

Railway Children work in tandem with the British Transport Police and around 10,000 referrals are made to the charity by British Transport Police each year.

Anna Delvecchio, Development Director at Mott MacDonald is set to take part in the Sleepout and gave her reasons for doing so, explaining: “So I'm really passionate about corporate social responsibility, both in terms of supporting charities outside work, as well as within Mott MacDonald.

“The reason that I support the Railway Children Sleepout is I believe we should all play our part in helping vulnerable and young children that are able to turn their lives around.

“And the work that the Railway Children do, it's not about homeless children it’s about preventing that and giving them support.”

Mark Wild, CEO of Crossrail has been associated with Railway Children since the 2000s and will also be taking part of March 31.

Mr Wild commented on the reasons he’ll be taking part: “This is a combination of two things I feel passionate about.

“I love the railways; I particularly love Britain's railways and London's railways in particular. But I really think it's time for us to help the desperately sad situations that people find themselves in.

“So that's why I'm doing a combination of two things that I feel really passionate about railways and helping people.”

Alison Yim, Business Development and Marketing Coordinator at Mott MacDonald will be joining the Sleepout in Glasgow and believes it is essential that the industry back initiatives like this as she said: “I think it's really important that the rail industry does get involved.

“Obviously, it covers a wide variety of organisations that have got a lot of people that they can get involved in raising money.

“And as a mum I just wouldn't ever want my child to be in a position where they didn't have any kind of support.

“So just knowing that there are charities out there that could help people that [my son] might know that might find themselves in difficulties that there are people that could help is great.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation worse for vulnerable young children with the persistent school closures.

Katie explained this stating: “For a lot of the kids, school is a bit of an outlook for them, by going to school they get a hot meal and they have people they can talk to there.

“So the lockdown was really harsh for so many of these kids because they weren't getting food, they were stuck in a home where they might have been abused or things going on so the pandemic has been very hard.”

The charity aims to raise £150,000 from the Sleepout and all support is welcome.

Ambassadors of the Railway Children's work include: Alan Robertson, CEO Volker Wessels, Alex Hynes, Managing Director Scotland's Railway, Andy Lord, Managing Director London Underground, Anna Delvecchio, Development Director Transportation Mott MacDonald and Dyan Crowther, CEO HS1.

Further ambassadors include: Elaine Clark, CEO Rail Forum Midlands, Gareth Powell, Managing Director Surface Transport TfL, Ged Mason, CEO Morson Group, Mark Thurston, CEO HS2, Mark Wild, CEO Crossrail, Simon Blanchflower, CEO East West Rail, Will Wilson, CEO Siemens Mobility Ltd.

Donations to the Railway Children Sleepout can be made by visiting their dedicated page here.

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