If you’re making a train journey in the East Midlands on Thursday 10 October there’s a good chance a stranger will ask you: “Are you OK today?”
Volunteers will be on five major stations between Sheffield and London St Pancras on World Mental Health Day, as part of the RUOK? campaign to support mental wellbeing.
RUOK? is a partnership of NHS, police, rail, local authority and other public, private and third sector organisations, first launched in Leicester in 2015.
The aim is to engage travellers in 30-second conversations to get them thinking how small acts, such as a friendly word, question or gesture can help to lift someone’s mood.
Volunteers will be back on Leicester station for the fifth successive year, with trained listeners on hand to provide confidential support for those who need it.
And this year, for the first time, Network Rail and East Midlands Railway are extending the initiative to include Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby and London St. Pancras.
Previous RUOK? events in Leicester, both at the station and in the city centre, have seen almost 10,000 people engaged in conversation and handed business cards signposting them to further information and support. More than 60 people have received confidential support from trained listeners on the spot.
Volunteers at Leicester will be offering people tea and biscuits and the chance to chat. Passengers will also be invited to make their own pledge for wellbeing by signing an RUOK? pledge wall during the course of the day.
Event co-ordinator Matthew Wakely, a mental health service lead from Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, explained why RUOK? is making a difference.
He said: “Asking someone ‘Are you OK?’ is such an easy thing to do. It’s a simple act that can have a massive impact on someone’s mental wellbeing. We’ll be asking the question on the day and encouraging people to think about the small things they can do – from a text or a smile to a conversation or just a hand on the shoulder – to lift someone else’s mood.
He added: “We’re delighted that Network Rail and East Midlands Railway are taking the successful approach we have pioneered in Leicestershire and Rutland and spreading the message across their network. It means that thousands more people can be made aware that, in 30 seconds, any one of us can help a friend, colleague or loved one by asking them how they are feeling, being there to support them or helping them find other sources of support.“
Neil Grabham, customer experience director for East Midlands Railway, said: “We have around 28 million passengers travelling through our stations annually and by having volunteers offering support, we are creating more awareness and hopefully reaching out to hundreds of people who may need help.”
You can find out more about RUOK? at http://ruoktoday.co.uk/
NOTES TO EDITORS
The RUOK? partnership includes Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicestershire Police, Network Rail, Railway Mission, Samaritans, LAMP, Haymarket Shopping Centre, Healthwatch, Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council. You can find out more at www.ruoktoday.co.uk
Photo/film and interview requests and for further information contact: Sheila Ashton, communications manager, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Tel: 0116 295 0042, E: firstname.lastname@example.org