Network Rail has signed the first pan-industry homelessness charter as part of its work to help homeless people across Britain.
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines was joined by transport secretary Grant Shapps and British Transport Police assistant chief constable Charlie Doyle to sign the charter at London Paddington station.
It comes ahead of World Homeless Day this Saturday and amid Network Rail's Routes out of Homelessness campaign – a five-year focus on the single charitable theme of homelessness. Focusing on one theme for five years means more opportunities for sustainable and meaningful partnerships with other organisations.
The Government is committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and ending rough sleeping for good. That’s why the rail industry is playing its part with a charter setting out how it will help safeguard vulnerable people and communities.
This includes working closely together with charities to create bespoke plans. It also includes training for station staff so they can give the right advice and support to people sleeping rough around the railway.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “We know that homelessness is a real problem and many vulnerable people are drawn to the rail network.
“We are committed to working with communities and charities to improve how we work together to address the challenges involved in supporting some of the country's most marginalised people.”
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said: “Everybody should have the safety, comfort and security of a home. For those sleeping rough in our railway stations, particularly as we approach winter, life can be cold, challenging and uncertain.
Contactless donation points at railway stations are among the ways the railway is helping tackle homelessness
“This new charter demonstrates the rail industry is committed to taking meaningful action. Having helped take StreetLink online with the popular app as Housing Minister, I’m delighted that it will now be used to increase reporting of rough sleeping in order to rapidly bring expert help to those who are vulnerable.”
The national Routes out of Homelessness initiative will include events to raise awareness for charities The Big Issue Foundation, Crisis, End Youth Homelessness, Railway Children and Shelter.
Art at Leeds station
Routes out of Homelessness will also include fundraising and an outreach programme at railway stations to support the Government's ambitions to end rough sleeping.
Shelter is piloting the outreach programme at Manchester Piccadilly. It includes dedicated outreach teams at stations who will offer support to those in need while ensuring a safe environment for them, as well as for railway staff and passengers. It will also launch at Birmingham New Street in December.
Murals representing each of the charities were unveiled today at Glasgow Central, Leeds, London Charing Cross and Manchester Piccadilly to mark the occasion ahead of World Homeless Day.
Artist and Big Issue vendor John Cahill will also create a piece live at London Paddington today (Thursday). It will be installed Reading station’s new Assisted Travel Lounge when it opens next year.