Community Rail Lancashire’s Railway Confidence Employment Experience provides the opportunity for young autistic people and others with a range of needs to experience rail employment. For the future equality, diversity and inclusion of both rail and community rail, it is vital that all young people are given the opportunity to have positive experiences within the industry.

Working in close partnership with superb Northern and British Transport Police staff members, the young people travel to a key station location by train, and meet rail staff from a range of sectors within the industry. They are given the opportunity to understand the roles, to experience some of the responsibilities within the roles and to ask any questions they might have about rail employment. They also have the opportunity to learn about community rail roles and activities, and complete a wide range of skills-based activities. They finish the day with a certificate for their record of achievement; a key part of recognising their learning.

Following the employment experience, 93% of participants said they would consider applying for a job in rail or community rail, with a 99% score of full marks (10/10) for enjoyment, excitement and usefulness. One student participant said the session was, “Actually brilliant, can’t fault it. Please, when I have left college, I would love to work for Northern.”

All the young people involved are able to develop skills and strategies for use of and employment within rail and community rail, ranging from a new and positive experience, to building travel strategies and plans, to deciding on a budding career with a clear path for progression. Into the future we look forward to engaging with many more pupils with autism and special educational needs and disabilities; enabling meaningful use of rail for all, and building increasingly diverse and inclusive rail and community rail industries.

Case study

Ben* came into the programme with his group with a passion for law enforcement. He had decided that making YouTube videos was his future career, but was open to the idea of experiencing something new.

He met Community Rail Lancashire with his group at their local Northern station, and travelled to Manchester Victoria.

At the station, he met a wide range of rail staff, from managers and conductors to train drivers and officers from the British Transport Police (BTP).

He was greatly influenced by meeting the BTP, and took the opportunity to ask a number of questions, including how he could apply for a post, and who could help. The officers took the time to give him a clear idea of what qualifications he would need, and how he could reach his goal.

On his end of day feedback form, Ben responded that he had had an amazing day, and would be considering the BTP for a future career.

For more information, or to get involved (Northern England), please contact daisy.chamberlain@btconnect.com or visit www.downtheline.org.uk.

This project is funded by Community Rail Lancashire, the Designated Community Rail Development Fund, Merseyrail and Merseytravel.

Community rail involves local people in the development and running of local and rural rail routes, services and stations and aims to increase revenue, reduce costs, increase community involvement and support social and economic development. Community rail lines and services are part of the commercial rail network, with services operated by the train operating companies and infrastructure owned and maintained by Network Rail.