Network Rail signs charter to tackle rough sleeping on UK rail network

Posted: 9 October 2020 | | No comments yet

The railway charter will support the UK government’s aim to break the cycle of homelessness and ending rough sleeping for good.

Network Rail signs charter to tackle rough sleeping on UK rail network

Credit: Network Rail - Andrew Haines, Grant Shapps and Charlie Doyle signing the homelessness charter.

Network Rail’s Chief Executive, Andrew Haines, was joined by the UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, and British Transport Police (BTP) Assistant Chief Constable, Charlie Doyle, to sign the first pan-industry homelessness charter at London Paddington Station as part of a wide-reaching programme of efforts to support a route out of homelessness for every person sleeping rough around the rail network.

The UK government is committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and ending rough sleeping for good – that’s why the rail industry is to play its part by introducing a charter setting out how it will help safeguard vulnerable people and communities.  

This includes working closely together with charities to create bespoke plans and training for station staff so that they can give the right advice and support to people sleeping rough around the railway.

Chief Executive of Network Rail, Andrew Haines, said: “We know that homelessness is a real problem, and many vulnerable people are drawn to the rail network. We are committed to working with communities and charities to improve how we work together to address the challenges involved in supporting some of the country’s most marginalised people.” 

Grant Shapps, the UK Transport Secretary, said: “Everybody should have the safety, comfort and security of a home. For those sleeping rough in our railway stations, particularly as we approach winter, life can be cold, challenging and uncertain. This new charter demonstrates that the rail industry is committed to taking meaningful action. Having helped take StreetLink online with the popular app as Housing Minister, I’m delighted that it will now be used to increase reporting of rough sleeping in order to rapidly bring expert help to those who are vulnerable. We must fight homelessness on all fronts, and I am proud that the railways are playing their part in our ultimate ambition of ending rough sleeping within this Parliament.”

Assistant Chief Constable at British Transport Police, Charlie Doyle, said: “Tackling homelessness on the railway and helping those in need is a very important issue to us, and we welcome this charter to galvanise the collective efforts of industry, police and partners to support often the most vulnerable people with a route out of homelessness. As part of our commitment to this cause, we continue to work with industry and charitable partners to support outreach provision and our officers and staff are encouraged to use the StreetLink app in the course of their patrols. In addition, I would encourage the travelling public to download and use the app to signpost when and where they see those in need of help. This simple action may change someone’s life.”

In a change of approach to the company’s charitable endeavours, Network Rail has partnered with The Big Issue Foundation, Crisis, End Youth Homelessness, Railway Children and Shelter to focus on this important societal issue.

The national Routes out of Homelessness initiative will feature a number of events to raise awareness for the charities, as well as fundraising and a new outreach programme at stations to support the government’s ambitions to end rough sleeping.

The outreach programme is being piloted by Shelter at Manchester Piccadilly and includes new dedicated outreach teams at stations who will help to offer support to those in need whilst ensuring a safe environment for them, as well as railway staff and passengers. It will also launch at Birmingham New Street in December 2020 and further stations in 2021.

Murals representing each of the charities were unveiled today at Glasgow Central, Leeds, London Charing Cross and Manchester Piccadilly stations to mark the occasion ahead of World Homeless Day on 10 October 2020. A piece was also created live by artist and Big Issue vendor John Cahill at London Paddington on 8 October 2020, which will be installed in Reading Station’s new Assisted Travel Lounge when it opens in 2021.

Network Rail has worked to support homeless people and help fundraise for associated charities in recent years.

This includes Railway Children’s Sleepout events which were hosted at stations across the country, teaming up with industry partners and charities to host Christmas Day lunches for homeless people at London Euston and Birmingham New Street, providing pitches in stations across the country for Big Issue vendors and working with charities to provide operational guidance to employees to help vulnerable people in and around Network Rail stations and infrastructure.