Community rail intiatives can help reduce rural isolation and help social incusion, says a report.
Launched by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP), the report highlights community rail projects across Britain.
It says local organisations working alongside industry connect communities to their railways, promote social cohesion and inclusion, and deliver a railway that enables access for all.
The study provides practical guidance and recommendations for groups and industry about developing successful social inclusion work, as well as showcasing best practice.
Authored by ACoRP’s Naomi Halloran, it illustrates how community rail supports and champions social inclusion across five themes:
* promoting accessible journeys for all
* connecting people to opportunities and services
* stations as spaces for social growth and enterprise
* community rail volunteering
* using arts and heritage to engage communities.
The report draws on both academic research and best practice from across the community rail field and beyond.
Projects showcased in the report include programmes to build confidence and skills in rail travel for people with physical or hidden disabilities or other support needs.
The study also highlights schemes to help job seekers access wider employment opportunities and innovative uses of station space for social enterprise.
The document also shows how community rail volunteering can increase social interaction, employability and skills.
Lincolnshire’s Poacher Line, for example, has worked with a local academy school and cycling training programme ‘Bikeability’ to promote active, bi-modal travel among young people;
Similarly, Community Rail Cumbria works in partnership with rehabilitation charity Turning Point to help people build confidence and social interaction while contributing to community rail volunteering projects.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, said: “This important and exciting report evidences the many ways that community rail impacts on social inclusion.
“Through connecting communities with their railways, and helping people get the most from local lines and stations, community rail partnerships and groups around Britain are making a huge difference to people’s lives.”
More recognition should be given to community rail as a powerful force in bringing about a fairer, more inclusive society, the report suggests.
The report is available at communityrail.org.uk/resources-ideas/reports-resources-tools