Our approach to protecting vulnerable people
South Western Railway, along with all our partners, is committed to playing an active role in safeguarding vulnerable adults and children across our network. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and we are committed to:
- Promoting the wellbeing of all children and vulnerable adults in need of help and support
- Reducing and/or preventing the likelihood of harm where possible
- Mitigating the impact and effects of harm in collaboration with partner agencies
Below are just some of the activities our teams undertake as part of our Safeguarding Strategy:
Safeguarding in Rail
In August 2022, we became the UK’s second train operator to achieve accreditation in the British Transport Police’s Safeguarding in Rail scheme recognising the need to support the most vulnerable members of society, and the role SWR, and our colleagues have to play. Central elements of the programme include clear policies, accountable leadership and a dedicated and ongoing programme of training for all colleagues. Find out more on the Railway Children website.
Rail to Refuge - Free train travel for those fleeing domestic abuse
Since April 2020, the rail industry has supported Rail to Refuge, a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children escaping domestic abuse travelling to refuge accommodation.
Set up in the context of a rise in domestic abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the scheme enables survivors of domestic abuse to get far away from their abusers without having to worry about raising the money to travel. In its first year the scheme helped get 1,348 survivors, including 362 children over five to safety.
Survivors should reach out for support from a domestic abuse service which is a member of Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid or Imkaan (including Respect’s Men’s Advice Line), who will put them in touch with a refuge and arrange for a free ticket. Find out more on the Women’s Aid website.
Many people in vulnerable situations use our transport systems to escape a range of issues. Being aware of this can reduce their risk. Stepping in and giving the right support can mark a turning point in their lives. We work collaboratively to help people at risk by identifying and responding to safeguarding concerns or incidents on our network.
In 2022 we joined others across the rail industry in signing the Rough Sleeping on Rail Charter, aimed at reducing rough sleeping and safeguarding those most vulnerable. We are working with Network Rail and the British Transport Police to progress and deliver its commitments.
Creating a safe space in Richmond
This summer, at Richmond station, we also supported British Transport Police, the Metropolitan Police and Richmond Borough Council to provide a safe haven for women and girls, during evenings out in Richmond town centre. This initiative will continue in December and operate into 2023.
Railway Fatalities and Suicides
SWR works closely with the British Transport Police, Network Rail, the Samaritans and other industry partners to try to identify vulnerable individuals and reduce the number of suicides on the railway. A team of trained Trespass and Welfare Officers provide a visible presence at identified locations, supporting our stations colleagues in identifying and mitigating risk.
We will soon be launching domestic violence guidance for colleagues which aims to raise awareness of domestic violence, address the effect on the colleague and their workplace, and provide guidance and support for managers and victims.
Our INSPIRE network is focussed on supporting and promoting gender equality at SWR, and it is important that everyone, regardless of gender or gender identity, comes together to champion this agenda.
White Ribbon Day
As part of our overall approach to protecting vulnerable people, SWR is joining with others in the Rail Industry to support White Ribbon Day on 25 November 2022.
White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls. The charity aims to prevent violence against women and girls, by changing harmful attitudes, systems and behaviours that perpetuate gender inequality and men’s violence against women.
Find out more about our support for White Ribbon Day here.