Community Rail Awards Press Release

December 17, 2020

Kent Community Rail Partnership, which is hosted by the charity Sustrans, has been recognised with three Community Rail Network Awards.

The Partnership’s “A Chance to Shine” project with Sheppey College took first place in the Involving Children and Young People category at the recent Community Rail Network Awards.

Kent Community Rail Partnership and Sheppey College worked together to provide opportunities for students to get involved in a range of community activities.

The main aim of “A Chance to Shine” was to empower students to showcase their talents, boosting self-esteem, providing real-life experiences, and helping build portfolios to enhance employment prospects.

Kent Community Rail Partnership were also keen to engage with the students to promote rail as safe, healthy, and sustainable travel. They also want to get students’ views on how the Swale Rail Line, which runs from Sittingbourne to Sheerness-on-Sea, could be improved for young people and all sections of local communities, encouraging increased passenger use.

Alan Salter, Principle of Sheppey College commented
‘Sheppey College are delighted to have received this award and would like to thank Kent Community Rail Partnership for all of their hard work and dedication throughout the project. Our students and local community are the heart of our College, and we like to ensure we benefit them as much as possible. It is so nice to see our students work benefitting the local community and even nicer to see their physical work on display at local train stations. It gives our students a real sense of pride when they are able to see their finished work out in the world, it also gives them an opportunity to build their skills and confidence while they are preparing for the industry. ‘

The Community Rail Awards, organised by Community Rail Network, recognise the important, often unsung, work by community rail partnerships, station friends, and other community rail groups across Britain. They shine a light on vital projects across this growing grassroots movement, highlighting community rail’s contribution to sustainable mobility, social inclusion, community development, and wellbeing.

The Community Rail Awards recognise the achievements and passion of community rail volunteers, groups and partnerships across Britain. The awards were delivered as an online gala evening for the first time with 550 guests, including community rail volunteers, officers, rail industry leaders and government representatives.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “Our congratulations go to Kent Community Rail Partnership for their inspiring project, which highlights the great benefits of community rail engaging with young people. By being involved with rail, young people develop skills and confidence, and access opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach, through sustainable and healthy means – and we gain from their ideas and input.

“We will be holding up this brilliant example from Kent nationally, to inspire more communities and young people to engage with and take advantage of their railways.”

The Partnership’s entry in the photo competition,”Snodland Garden, Growing Together!” received second place in the Community Rail In Action Photo Competition, which depicted students from Five Acre Wood School Snodland, at the opening ceremony for the redevelopment work they carried out at Snodland station.

The Five Acre Wood Snodland and Grow19 Project scooped third place in the Most Enhanced Station Category. The project empowered students aged 16 to 25 with additional educational needs to feel valued in their community and develop functional skills through real-life experiences. Kent Community Rail Partnership worked with the group to transform an unsightly grassed area outside Snodland Station, and the station’s booking hall.

Community Rail Network support officer, Daniel Wright said: “Good work all! I had the great pleasure of visiting Five Acre Wood Snodland and Grow 19’s station garden with my friends at Kent CRP and it is heart-warming as well as beautiful.”

Andy Place, engagement officer for Kent Community Rail Partnership, said:

“We are honoured that Kent CRP with our partners at Sheppey College, Five Acre Wood and Grow19 have been recognised in this year’s Community Rail Network Awards. They should all take great pride in what they have achieved. We are also extremely grateful for the support we received from Southeastern Railway to enable these projects to take place and from our volunteers and line members, who have generously given their time and enthusiasm to make these projects a success.

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “I was extremely impressed by not just the quality but diversity of projects celebrated at this year’s awards. Local communities up and down the country have worked tirelessly to improve the railway, helping bring people closer together despite the huge challenges that Covid-19 has presented. I would like to congratulate all of those who won awards. These inspirational projects have made a real difference to those who use our rail network.”

The Kent Community Rail Partnership is hosted by Sustrans and currently has two established community rail lines. The Swale Rail Line which runs between Sheerness and Sittingbourne and the Medway Valley Line which runs from Strood to Tonbridge.

2021 will see Kent Community Rail Partnership begin activities on a third line which will support 12 stations between Ashford and Kemsing. This is known as the Kent Downs Line which links up with the start of the Marsh Line at Ashford International which is run by the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership

Kent Community Rail Partnership work closely with schools and colleges, local community groups and station adopters to organise events along the line and at stations.

If you would like to become involved with community rail and supporting your local station or find out more about what Kent CRP does, then please contact Kent CRP through our website www.kentcrp.org or email kentcrp@sustrans.org.uk

Details of all 2020 award winners are on the Community Rail Network website here.

For information on Kent Community Rail Partnership, go to www.kentcrp.org.