Railway Children support partners at Reading Festival for first time

  • Date: 30 August 2023
  • In: UK

Reading Festival is a world-renowned music event that takes place annually over the August bank holiday weekend, attracting more than 100,000 visitors every year.

A significant part of the festival's audience is a cohort of teenagers who are celebrating their recent GCSE and A-Level results and marking the end of the summer. Due to the location of the festival site being close to the town centre and the train station, foot fall increases significantly over the course of the weekend.

For the first time, Railway Children supported partners from Great Western Railway, Festival Republic and British Transport Police during the event, while working alongside the Samaritans on an engagement stall at the station.

The stall was used to raise awareness of the 'At Risk Right Here Right Now' campaign, as well as promoting the Railway Guardian app and sign-posting young people to support services that were available at the festival via a QR code.

In addition to providing information, an experienced Youth Practitioner was present at the station over the course of the three days to offer direct support to anyone who needed it. For many teenagers attending the festival, it was the first time they were away from home, which can increase the risk of vulnerability.

Joe Clay, Programme Manager: Safeguarding Partnerships, said: “This was the first time we have done anything like this, however, due to the amount of young people using the railway and the fact that for many, it may be their first time away from home, it felt right that we should support such an event.

“We engaged with well over a hundred young people, but also had a lot of engagement with staff from various parts of the station. Railway Children is in a unique position to offer support as we understand the issues that young people face while using the railway and externally.”

Ian Stack, BTP Chief Inspector at Reading Station, said: "The joint partnership working at Reading Station with Railway Children and BTP during Reading Festival was a great success following several positive interactions with festival-goers who knew nothing about either organisations.

"The fantastic thing about hosting joint initiatives is that we come together to promote each other’s work and support vulnerable people using the rail network."