Community Rail Lancashire had another good year at the 2021 National Community Rail Awards, held in Southampton on Thursday 9th December. We were lucky to have four projects short listed for the awards and came away with two wins, a second place and a joint third place.
The first winner was in the category of ‘Involving Children & Young People’ and was the Community Rail Education Network for the 2021 Backtrack (Create it, Share It, Save Lives) project. Backtrack is led by CRL’s Karen Bennett and involves officer from community rail partnerships across the UK. The project is an anti-trespass campaign and encourages young people to create content to warn their peers not to trespass on the railway.
Award number two was a second place in the category of ‘Involving Diverse Groups’ and was for CRL’s Bonded Together with a Prayer Bead. The project led by CRL’s Shahiesta Raja was designed to break down barriers, bring different communities together, and encourage new friendships by creating prayer beads, something that people of all faiths can relate to and recognise.
Award three was a joint third place in the category of ‘Community Creative Projects & Station Arts’ and was for CRL’s Along the Line project, an art project led by CRL’s Caroline Holden and based on Ramsgreave & Wilpshire station on the Clitheroe Line. The project saw students from Ribblesdale School and Blackburn College working with local artist Karen Allerton to produce a range of artworks, pictures, and stories. Young people also interviewed passengers, who highlighted a desire for better station signage. The artwork has made the station more appealing to a growing passenger market, and links made during the project ensured that rail information was included in information about a new local housing development.
The final award for CRL was a win in the category of ‘Best Community Engagement Project’ and was for their 100 Women 100 Journeys project that was designed to address the gender imbalance of the workforce in the rail industry. When COVID-19 struck in March 2020, CRL’s education team adapted to develop a new initiative that could be delivered under lockdown restrictions. Instead of taking groups out by train, women were encouraged to write about a memorable rail journey they had taken. The aim was to collect 100 stories from 100 women to compile into a book sharing their recollections and experiences. CRL wanted to use the stories to support rail recovery by reminding readers of the romance of train travel, as well as promoting rail as a viable career option for young
women. The team also wanted to raise funds for Women’s Aid to support the Rail to Refuge campaign.
Karen Bennett, Community Rail Education Development Officer for Community Rail Lancashire, said: “We are delighted to receive these prestigious awards, and I would like to thank colleagues and supporters who have helped make both 100 Women, 100 Journeys, and Backtrack the successes they have been.”
Richard Watts, Chair Community Rail Lancashire commented: “This has been a brilliant night for the CRL team and I am delighted with their successes. Once again the awards achieved reflect the diversity of projects undertaken by the team and I am especially proud that the Education Network, so ably chaired by Karen Bennett, has achieved a first in the category of ‘Involving Children and Young People’. I also congratulate the Bittern Line CRP for winning the category sponsored by CRL and for the recognition their project received from the Sheringham Dementia Friends.”
Jools Townsend, Chief Executive of Community Rail Network, said: “Our congratulations go to Community Rail Lancashire for their inspirational 100 Women, 100 Journeys project. They engaged women from different countries, generations, and backgrounds in a celebration of how rail journeys can open up new opportunities and experiences. While unable to take groups out on train trips due to the pandemic, this project was adapted to still have maximum impact, and the result is an amazing anthology of moving stories, which are being shared at stations through local engagement across the area.”
Jools continued saying: “This all forms part of Community Rail Lancashire’s exceptional range of work helping communities get the most from their railways and have a voice, including working creatively with young people. I’m delighted that the Backtrack competition they have led on with other community rail partnerships also scooped a much-deserved award.”