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Sunday, May 19, 2024

South Western Railway Supports Samaritans as employees gear up to run the 2024 TCS London Marathon

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Railway workers across are set to raise thousands of pounds for Samaritans this April as they put on their running shoes to take on the 2024 TCS London Marathon.

South Western Railway’s runners are supporting Samaritans after it was chosen as the event’s official Charity Partner of the Year. They will not only be raising much-needed funds, but also awareness of the essential services the charity provides to people in crisis and needing support. Samaritans answers a call every 10 seconds from someone needing to be listened to.

With one in five (20%) people in the UK saying they have experienced suicidal thoughts, at some point in their lives, which is the equivalent of around 10,000 of the anticipated 50,000 participants who will take part in this year’s TCS London Marathon, the South Western Railway team know how important the work of Samaritans is.

Train driver, Gemma Deedat from Fratton, Portsmouth, pledged to run for Samaritans following an incident on her route.

The mother-of-two – who has worked in the rail industry for 11 years – hopes that by running for the charity, more people will see how vital Samaritans’ services are.

She said: “I had not long come back from annual leave when the incident happened, and I’d only been driving on my own for seven months. The British Transport Police, paramedics, and my train guard were really supportive.

“I have chosen to run for Samaritans because I am hoping it will show that calling them to speak with someone can make all the difference.”

Samaritans’ own findings show while 74% of people are comfortable talking with family and friends about mental health and wellbeing, only 45% are comfortable talking about suicidal thoughts, suggesting a stigma still exists around this specifically and discomfort in discussing it could be contributing to a lack of awareness and understanding of the issue.  

Mel Rappini from Southampton used the Samaritans website to help her navigate tough conversations with loved ones who were struggling to cope. This inspired the HR Business Partner to fundraise for the charity.

Mel, who is also a mother-of-two, said: “Samaritans gives so much out to other people all the time, and I have used the information on its website to help support close friends and family who have previously been going through a tough time.

“It was useful to understand how I can support them and know where they are coming from a little bit more.

“It isn’t necessarily about saying to someone, ‘This is what you should do’, because there may be no right answer.

“For people to know Samaritans are there any time to listen, it allows them to ease some of the weight off their shoulders and talk openly about what they’re going through.”

The trio of runners includes James Stearn, who works as a Duty Control Manager.

James, from Surbiton, said: “Through my work in the control centre, I am well aware of the numbers of people who seek help through Samaritans and the great work they do.

“Samaritans support is not only as a voice in times of need, but also in training rail staff so that they feel confident to make interventions which could just save a life if someone is in crisis.”

Daniel O’Riordan, Head of Security and Safety Assurance at South Western Railway, said: “I am in awe of the work Samaritans do.

“We’ve worked together for many years and the positive impact of our partnership is felt by colleagues, customers, and the communities we serve all around our network.

“We’re committed to playing an active role in safeguarding everyone who uses the railway and ensuring everyone knows they are in a safe pair of hands.

“All of us at SWR are very proud of everyone taking part in this year’s marathon and will be cheering Gemma, Mel, and James every step of the way”.   

To donate to Gemma’s fundraising page, go to: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/gemma-deedat

To donate to Mel’s fundraising page, go to: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/mel-rappini

To donate to James’ fundraising page, go to: https://2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/jamesstearn

Image credit: Samaritans

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