The project, which is run in partnership with the National Citizen Service, Notts County FC and the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership, is designed to help students from migrant families who do not speak English as their first language to feel confident enough to access the rail network and understand how to navigate around stations.
The Nottinghamshire-based students, who are currently attending Nottingham College as part of their ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course, toured Nottingham station and learnt all about the process of travelling by rail safely, including learning how to buy tickets, read timetables and find the correct platform.
They have been living in the UK from between a few months to several years and the aim was to increase confidence in rail travel. They completed a workbook on Rail Safety which the Poacher Line designed.
The 16 to 18 year olds were also supported in taking their first train trip in the UK, with the group of 15 travelling to Skegness on Monday where they tucked into some fish and chips before doing some team building exercises on the beach.
As part of their National Citizenship Service programme, the business students are then today (Tuesday) helping complete a piece of mural artwork in Sleaford on the wall of the railway underpass on King Edward Street, based on the town’s skyline and RAF heritage and trains of course!
They are working with James and Luke from Imageskool, a local urban artist, they will be painting a mural on one side.
Funding for the project was provided by EMR and the Poacher Line CRP. The Poacher Line provided all the students with a goody bag to take come containing some Christmas treats.
Siavash, 18, who was originally from Iran, said: “I found it really useful and I now have the confidence to travel on a train on my own. The trains are more modern than in Iran and less crowded so better to travel on.”
While Razim, 18, originally from Bangladesh, said being guided through the process has made him more confident to use the train in the future.
He said: “The tour of the station has made me understand how to travel by train safely, learning how to buy a ticket has made me feel more confident. The trains are a lot faster and comfortable to travel on. I would travel by train in the future.”
Kaye Robinson, Community Ambassador at East Midlands Railway, said: “Many of the group have never been on a train before or been to a station, so being a part of a project which helps them to understand how to use the network was very rewarding. Breaking down the barriers which stop people using services such as the railway is so important. We don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed or intimidated when using the rail network.”
Jo Andrews, Community Rail Officer for the Poacher Line said: "It has been a fantastic project and we are pleased we could offer a rewarding experience to these young people who have never been on a train before in the UK or had not been to the beach. The weather was against us but the students had a wonderful time and we now have an amazing piece of artwork on the subway at Sleaford, which was a previously neglected space but is now bright and cheery for all to enjoy.
"I’m really pleased the students could help us achieve this.