The project is a partnership between Community Rail Cumbria and Turning Point, a national charity specialising in the rehabilitation of people with substance and alcohol abuse issues. The purpose has been to integrate rail-based activity within established programmes of rehabilitation. Small work groups carry out structured maintenance tasks at remote stations along the Cumbria Coastline ranging from painting neglected shelters to tending station gardens, landscaping and wildlife conservation.
Project Manager Laurence Hilland said
“This project benefits the stations, many of which have been neglected. And it benefits the participants – giving them a real sense of worth and value again. Recovering from substance alcohol abuse is a very difficult journey. Whilst the residents are working, local people often bring the group tea and biscuits, train drivers wave – these may seem like little things but they mean a lot.”
At the end of the rehabilitation programme, participants receive a Certificate of Appreciation to acknowledge their support and participation. Having now established that the concept works a framework for developing the project will be taken forwards at the end of phase one. But perhaps success is best summed up by the manager of Stanfield House rehabilitation centre. “When the residents are working on the railway they feel part of society and not isolated from it. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”