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South Western Railway community programme celebrates first birthday

Credit: South Western Railway

A special programme run by South Western Railway that helps vulnerable people build confidence on the train is celebrating its first birthday.

Their Community Ambassador programme includes a "Try the Train" scheme, which sees volunteers escort people, such as those with learning or physical disabilities on their journeys.

The ambassadors are SWR employees who go above and beyond their day jobs to share their time, experience and knowledge with members of the public.

Since June 2018, 35 Ambassadors have hosted more than 25 Try the Train trips for a range of groups, including those with physical and learning disabilities, school-age children, new mothers and even trainee assistance dogs.

Over the past year Jimmy, a long-cane user who suffers from glaucoma, is one of those to have received help. 

He usually travels with the help of Gemma, a habitation specialist at Portsmouth City Council’s inclusion service.

Jimmy saw the 'Try the Train' experience as an opportunity to become more independent and learn how to travel safely on his own to attend his regular eye appointments at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital by train.

Primary school children have also used the scheme to travel to Portsmouth Harbour, as have vulnerable parents.

SWR’s Community Rail Manager, Andy Harrowell said: "We are delighted that the hard work and dedication of our teams of Ambassadors has made this programme such a success.

"Across the year we have been amazed by the number of groups we have been able to give their first train trip to, leaving each person with a smile on their face and improved knowledge about our services.

"To top the success of the last twelve months, the team's hard work has been recognised by the prestigious National Rail Awards as we've been shortlisted in the Customer Service Excellence category. Congratulations to all our Ambassadors and I look forward to another year of success."

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