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Banish the winter blues with a cuppa at GWR

Category: Health and Wellbeing, Wellbeing, Employee Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, wellness, mental health week, Wellcome

GWR is teaming up with the Samaritans to support ‘Brew’ Monday on 20 January. The third Monday of January is often known as Blue Monday – the most difficult day of the year.

As part of the Samaritans’ partnership with the rail industry, GWR is inviting staff and customers to ‘share the warmth’ of a conversation over a cuppa at stations across the network.


GWR has actively encouraged colleagues to open up about so-called taboo subjects like stress, depression, anxiety and the menopause.

More than 130 GWR staff volunteers, ranging from train managers to drivers and ticket staff to engineers, have been trained as Mental Health First Aiders.

Training is accredited by Mental Health England and the first aiders act as a point of contact for colleagues, providing a listening ear and suggesting help from the likes of GPs, Occupational Health Services and MIND.

‘Brew’ Monday events will be held at offices, stations and depots across the GWR network to help spread the message that it’s okay not to be okay. Samaritans volunteers will be at 11 stations across the network handing out free tea bags and listening tips to get customers talking and listening better.    


Barbara Davenport, GWR’s head of Wellbeing, said:

“One in four people will have mental health issues at some point in their life. Our Mental Health First Aiders are there for colleagues to reach out to if they’d like a quiet and discreet chat. They aren’t there to provide treatment but to signpost colleagues to pathways where they can get further support.”

Mental Health First Aiders at St Philip’s Marsh depot in Bristol have taken their roles a step further by setting up a ‘calm’ room where colleagues can call in for a cuppa and conversation.

Ruth Busby, GWR’s Human Resources director, added:

“We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of our staff and the ‘calm’ room is a brilliant example of colleagues supporting one another. Our Mental Health First Aiders are there to help no matter what the subject.”

GWR worked closely with colleagues from Network Rail Western before recruiting its first cohort of Mental Health First Aiders.

Neil Peters, Samaritans Rail programme manager, said: 

“During the cold and grey winter months, connecting with others over a cuppa can help weather the ups and downs of life. Anyone can hold a Brew Monday event at work, at home, wherever and whenever you like – all you need is a kettle and some mugs, and this could make a huge difference in someone’s life.”


Kerry Elton, head of Network Rail Western Route Human Resources, said:

“As part of our formal alliance with GWR we were pleased to invite colleagues to attend a couple of our training courses. Feedback has shown Mental Health First Aiders can play a valuable role in ensuring the better mental health and wellbeing of staff.”

Notes to editors

Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.

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