CRL - Community Rail Lancashire

Making Connections Celebration

Blackburn station celebrated the completion of the ‘Making Connections’ project on Thursday 11th May. Bringing together the artists, poets and many others who had been involved in this great project that has given the subway at Blackburn station a real makeover.

Making Connections was possible through grants secured by Community Rail Lancashire from the DfT, the Community Rail Network and Northern.

Utilising the transformative power of art, Arts2Heal, a mental health charity, aims to connect individuals, alleviate feelings of isolation and enhance wellbeing. Why not experience the wonder of travelling and the power of positive messages at the exhibition now on display in the subway at Blackburn station. Called ‘Journey to Connection’ it uses birds in flight to show how journeys can connect us. Each bird carries an inspirational message reminding us of the beauty of the world around us.

Banu Adam, Project Manager, Arts2Heal said; “This wonderful opportunity presented itself at a time when we had just resumed face-to-face workshops after COVID restrictions, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for our members. Many of our targeted individuals reside in isolation from society, so COVID posed a significant challenge for them.”

“Participating in this project not only provided therapeutic benefits of engaging in art but also gave members a chance to be actively involved from the planning to the final stages, honing skills such as planning, problem-solving, and organising, which are essential for long-term growth and development.”

“Our members have shared with us their highlights of this project which were undoubtedly the train trips and the opportunity to meet new people. These experiences helped to build confidence and provide purpose and meaning to their lives.’ ‘Therefore, for Arts 2 Heal, this journey has been much more than just painting birds. We hope that this art installation will serve as a source of inspiration and pride for the people of Blackburn, and a testimony to the power of creativity and connection.”

“In conclusion, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to everyone who contributed to this project, from our passionate and artistic members to the supportive community members, and most importantly, the organisations that supported us every step of the way. A special thank you to Community Rail Lancashire’s Katie and Shahiesta, who were both amazing throughout. Without all of your contributions, this project would not   been possible. Thank you very much.”

Euan Hilton, Station Manager Blackburn & East Lancashire, commented: “I am so proud of the artwork that has been installed in the subway at Blackburn. It really brightens and cheers up an area that people never paid attention to previously. This project shows that It really is important that the railways work with community groups and those providing support to others in such a positive way and I am excited to see how we can further improve what we have at Blackburn and possibly roll out other art projects locally.”

Martin Keating, Northern’s Community & Sustainability Manager, added: “The artwork is stunning and totally transforms the subway from what was beforehand a bit drab into a more colourful and welcoming area of Blackburn station. It is through working with Community groups such as Arts2Heal, Nightsafe and Community Rail Lancashire that Northern can make a difference and say we are proud of those communities whom we serve”.

David Tebb contributed an inspirational poem at the event here is a sample. To see the full poem, click here.

We’ve been on trips by rail

To places far and wide

We haven’t lost a soul

As Katie was our guide


We went to Christmas markets

The prices were insane

But in honour of our presence

 It decided not to rain


For all these great trips

From Community Rail Lancs

From all of us in Blackburn

We give you our thanks

To see an explanatory poster about this project click the link here: Poster