Volunteer at your local station

Friday, 4 June 2021

Find out more about volunteering opportunities.

After a year of lockdowns and social distancing, in the railway sector, we have seen more people than ever volunteering their time to care for our stations and support their local communities. According to Third Sector, over 4 million people in the UK volunteered for the first time during the Covid crisis, and here in the West Midlands, our numbers of station adopters doubled over the last year.

We caught up with our Head of Stakeholder and Community, Fay, to tell us a little bit more about herself and how you can get involved in volunteering at your local station.

Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your role?

My role at West Midlands Railway is Head of Stakeholder and Community, but this lengthy title can be shortened to ‘I work with people’. I work with customers, communities, passengers and businesses, volunteers at the stations, colleagues in other Train Operating Companies, Network Rail, Councils, West Midlands Rail Executive and our ‘station friends’ all over the region.

Why do you think volunteering is so popular at the moment?

Volunteering provides people with resilience, there is nothing more fulfilling than helping other people and your community. The gardening aspect of volunteering at our stations is also a health-giving pursuit, makes us more robust, and has helped many of our local communities throughout this pandemic.

Why do people take part in the Adopt a Station volunteering scheme?

People take part in volunteering schemes at our stations because they want to improve the local ‘character’ of the station, provide a warmer welcome for passengers, and enrich their own local communities.

In my part of the business, our major community triumph this year has been the expansion of the station adoption scheme through a new and innovative community partnership.

Every station along the ‘Shakespeare Line’ is now ‘adopted’ by a group of volunteers, also known as the Friends of the Shakespeare Line. Volunteers from all walks of life and businesses form one collective, managed by volunteer trustees which we are looking to replicate on other lines.

This new group are led by a hands-on board of Trustees who manage the fund finding and the day-to-day works whilst also finding the time to help others who are looking to set up the same organisational structure across the West Midlands.

To date, the Friends of the Shakespeare Line have contributed to creating mini-makeovers at their local stations and have helped increase the appeal of rail travel to attract passengers back. With this year’s ‘staycation and localism’ themes, we are also working together to bring more customers to railways and improve the economic and social regeneration of the neighbourhoods along our railway lines.

What is station adoption?

Our Adopt a Station scheme enables individuals (or groups) to ‘adopt’ and volunteer at their local railway station, working closely with us to help enhance and restore the station. It’s a great way to meet new people and get involved in the railway, as well as seeing your work not go unnoticed by members of the community.

Activities can include planting, painting, and creating different pieces of artwork to brighten up the station and provide a sense of community spirit.

Do you have an example of a recently adopted station?

On the Cross City Line during this year of challenge, Wylde Green Station found new friends in the summer of 2020 and thanks to our Station Manager on the line, the Station now has an energetic group of busy station adopters who have secured grants of over £2,000 to help with gardening, upgrades and installation of a spectacular wall mural.

The Group have worked hard on general upgrades and have also connected with local schools to arrange seasonal arts at the station which have attracted much local praise as people have taken to social media to express how the changes at the station have ‘helped uplift their day’.