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Essex rail pastors help turn Blue Monday into Brew Monday

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Rail pastors, Samaritans, British Transport Police and Greater Anglia staff at Shenfield station

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The rail pastors scheme, which aims to keep vulnerable people safe and save lives on the railway in Essex is being launched on what is dubbed by many as the most difficult day of the year. 

‘Blue Monday’, which this year falls on 15 January, is often circled as the unhappiest date on the calendar, when people are left facing dark mornings, post-Christmas debts and a month of restraint after over indulging during the festive period. 

The pastors used their debut to join forces with Samaritans volunteers and staff at Shenfield station this morning promoting Samaritans’ “Brew Monday” campaign which encourages people to have a chat and a cuppa.

In a bid to help officers and rail staff, Rail Pastors – an initiative of the Ascension Trust made up of trained volunteers from local churches – will patrol platforms and trains on the line between Shenfield and Colchester, looking out for people in need. 

Phil Norton, who has been a street pastor for five years, said: “We are a very gentle, non-judgmental group of people who are here to support those who are vulnerable or simply need someone to talk to.

“We will be dressed in a bright blue uniform, which is similar to the street pastor uniform. We are pleased to be able to offer our support to those in need.”

Superintendent Matt Allingham from British Transport Police said: “We already have rail pastors operating in other areas across the country and they have proved invaluable in helping vulnerable people on the network.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing this great initiative come to the line between Shenfield and Colchester”.

Jay Thompson, Head of Safety, Security at Sustainability at Greater Anglia, said: “We are very pleased to welcome rail pastors to our network in Essex. We already work closely with the British Transport Police, Samaritans and Land Sheriffs, and we believe the rail pastors will complement their great work.

“We fully support any initiative which aims to keep people safe on our rail network, and we are extremely grateful to the rail pastors for volunteering their time to care for others.”

Maureen Charles, Branch Director at Samaritans of Basildon and Thurrock said:

“January can be a hard and often lonely month for many and we were delighted to have the support of the Essex Rail Pastors for our Brew Monday event, where we encouraged local people to get together for a cuppa and a catch up. We’re equally delighted to see the start of this rail pastor scheme and have no doubt it will be of great benefit to the community.”

We support Samaritans’ ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign which seeks to reduce the number of suicides on the railway by encouraging commuters to look out for and talk to one another. To find out more, visit their webpage.

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