Railway Children launches new project in Glasgow
- Date: 24 October 2023
- In: UK
The project is Railway Children’s first venture into Scotland and aims to protect young people at risk on the rail network, with Glasgow Central Station being one of the top five UK stations for safeguarding incidents reported to British Transport Police (BTP).
By bringing together the rail community and BTP, the Safeguarding on Transport programme aims to raise awareness of vulnerability on the railways and strengthen safety responses in and around stations to protect young people from harm. This includes children who are running away from family conflict, abuse, mental health issues and those who are being exploited by criminal gangs.
Corey Paterson, a young person who Railway Children has worked with for seven years, spoke at the event about how the programme and support from the charity has helped him through difficult times in his life.
He said: “My mental health was at an extremely low point and I thought there was no way out; there is no way I can get any help to sort this out. The rest is history. I was referred to Railway Children and I’ve been healthy ever since.
"The support I’ve received from them has been second to none. I always feel reassured that I can message or call anyone at any time and I have someone to talk to if I ever have a low point.”
Last year, out of 962 Safeguarding and Vulnerability Reports for incidents occurring in Scotland involving children and young people, 181 (20%) were for children living in Glasgow.
When BTP identify a child or young person at risk, they can refer them to Railway Children’s Youth Practitioners who provide trauma-informed, bespoke support plans and family interventions to create positive change in their lives.
Francesca McKay, Railway Children’s Regional Manager for Scotland, said: “Lots of young people travel by train into Glasgow to escape dangerous situations and spend time in and around the station where they are at risk of criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation and other forms of harm.
"We know there’s a need for the Safeguarding on Transport programme here and that the work we can all do together can make a huge impact on the city and to the lives of vulnerable children."
The Glasgow project is funded by Alstom and Avanti West Coast and follows successful programmes in London, northwest England, West Midlands and Yorkshire.
Representatives from Transport Scotland, BTP, ScotRail, Network Rail, Caledonian Sleeper and Rail Pastors attended the event at Glasgow Central Station to support the project launch, as well as local charities I Am Me Scotland and Barnardo's.
A Safeguarding Action Group has already been established in Glasgow, made up of representatives from rail industry partners, local organisations and people who work in and around the station. The aim of the group is to raise awareness, share relevant information to generate local solutions and improve responses to vulnerable adults, children and young people.
Francesca added: "Our relationship with BTP and rail industry partners means we’re in a fantastic position to work not only directly with young people to ensure they are safe and protected, but with the network as a whole.
"We’d like to say a huge thanks to Alstom and Avanti West Coast for their support, as well as to the Glasgow Safeguarding Action Group who helped to make the project happen and to all the partners who have been so supportive over the last few months.”
Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Transport, said: “We know from our own research that some groups can feel more vulnerable on the railway. We also know from BTP that there are many incidences involving children and young people who may be at risk from their own behaviours or that of others who seek to exploit them.
"The partnership between Railway Children, BTP and the rail industry that will deliver this project in Glasgow will provide a vital safeguard for at risk minors and provide a support system to help steer them away from harm.”