A team of caring railway volunteers are doing their bit to help keep people safe at a time when many are at their most vulnerable due to Covid-19.
The volunteers, who all work for Govia Thameslink Railway, have roles that would normally see them out and about on the network. But due to the current pandemic, some of their duties have been restricted and they have instead volunteered to help monitor GTR’s vast network of CCTV cameras.
GTR – which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express services, has created a satellite CCTV suite in East Croydon so that these extra eyes can look out for any vulnerable people at stations, as well as any antisocial behaviour or hazards to people’s welfare, and raise the alarm with the appropriate authorities, such as the British Transport Police.
The train operator’s CCTV is already manned 24/7 and the role of the volunteers is to bolster surveillance at a time when more people are likely to be feeling vulnerable. Already, there have been 11 occasions in the last six weeks where a vulnerable person has been identified as being in need of assistance.
Brighton-based passenger host Dan Moon, who has worked on the railway for 13 years, is among those to volunteer. The 40-year-old, who lives in Brighton, said: “There are a lot of vulnerable people out there at the moment and we’re the eyes to spot them. You might not see anything for five days and then there may be one day when you spot someone who is vulnerable and get help to them, possibly saving that person’s life.”
Fellow CCTV volunteer Colin Latimer has been spending five days a week helping at the satellite suite. The Brighton-based fraud control officer said being able to put his time to good use had helped his own mental health. The 55-year-old, who has worked on the railway for 19 years and lives at Three Bridges, said: “It has saved my sanity. I have suffered with mental health issues in the past and being involved in this has helped. I feel as though I’m doing something worthwhile and productive. It’s vital to have people looking out for the vulnerable; we may pick up something that no-one else has.”
Luton-based passenger host Abby-Rose Boon, who has worked on the railway for 13 years, is another volunteer. The 30-year-old from Luton said: “I have always wanted to do CCTV monitoring; I find it quite fascinating. We work alongside the BTP in our current roles and it’s interesting to see the other side of the job. We’re keeping the railway network safe for the key workers who need to travel, and it’s been really rewarding helping out.”
In March this year, GTR established its Caring for the Vulnerable initiative with a focus on ensuring employees, customers and communities felt protected and supported where possible. The initiative includes a programme of activities to help people stay connected. GTR’s Head of Security and Emergency Resilience Tony Holland said: “At a time of great national challenge, it’s important to not only ensure key workers can travel by train and do the incredible work they do, but to also reach out and support those who may need our help too.”