The RailStaff Awards 2018

Change Event

Steve Tollerton, Jason Alexandre and Rob Christopher

Samaritans' Managing Suicidal Contacts and Trauma Support Training Team

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Ola Rzepczynska

Said the following about Steve Tollerton, Jason Alexandre and Rob Christopher:

“The Managing Suicidal Contacts & Trauma Support Training Team at Samaritans

For over six years, Jason, Rob and Steve have been delivering Samaritans Network Rail training to rail staff and British Transport Police as part of a wider industry programme tackling suicides on the railways. They have been delivering three courses:

• the Managing Suicidal Contacts (MSC) course, which equips frontline staff with confidence and skills to make an intervention with a potentially suicidal individual

• the Trauma Support Training – Journey to Recovery course (TST), which equips managers with the skills and knowledge to deal with traumatic events and incidents and to assist their staff in their recovery.

• the Trauma Support Training – Back on Track, which was created based on the strength of interest and need for the delivery of the TST – Journey to Recovery course to a wider range of staff requiring trauma support skills. The Trauma Support Training - Back on Track course was launched on the 1 July 2016.

Since the launch of the railway suicide prevention programme in 2010, the trainers have had amazing achievements during this time; delivering MSC training to well over 11,000 people on the railway network and delivering nearly 1,000 MSC and TST courses in England, Scotland and Wales. The MSC course not only trains rail industry staff, but is cascaded to other staff and volunteers working in the railway environment, such as Street Pastors and security staff who may come into contact with vulnerable people at stations.

The team have developed three courses that tackle the very difficult topic of suicide in a relatable and engaging way to help delegates think about, and develop, their emotional, listening and observational skills to give them the confidence to deal with vulnerable people.

“The training helped me remain calm and gave me confidence, as I felt as though I knew what I had to do. I hope that I will never be in a similar situation again, but if I do, I will be thankful that the Samaritans have enabled me to manage it with confidence.” Network Rail staff member who put his training to good use and made a potentially life-saving intervention.

Reports of interventions made by rail staff have been steadily increasing; there has been an increase in life-saving interventions from 848 in 2014/15 to 1137 for 2015/16, a rise of over 30%. Many of these interventions can be attributed to the skills and techniques taught by our trainers which have empowered and enabled industry colleagues to save lives on the railway.

Since the programme began, there have been 365 known interventions by MSC trained staff. However, these are only the interventions which are reported to Samaritans, so the figures are the minimum number possible. They also do not include interventions made by staff who have viewed our training materials, such as the Learning Tool, and have been able to make an intervention as a result of this knowledge.

One intervention resulted in a letter of thanks to the member of staff who had used their training skills to intervene at the right time. “The fact that someone had noticed me in the state I was in made me burst into tears. I opened up to him and he sat and listened to everything I had to say”. A thank you letter sent to a rail employee who saved his life by simply asking if he was OK and giving him the time and space to talk about his problems

Jason, Rob and Steve continuously develop the courses to bring added value to everyone who attends the course. Many delegates tell us that they have used their training skills beyond helping vulnerable people to help family, friends and colleagues with personal issues as well as rethinking the way they deal with difficult situations with customers.

The wider social impact of trained rail staff, who go on to use their listening skills both in their work environment and in their social networks, is clear and helps raise awareness of suicide among the general population, break down taboos and encourage help-seeking behaviour. Some examples of this wider impact include:

• Rail employees becoming Samaritans volunteers – Samaritans are hearing of more instances where trained rail staff are going on to join local branches. This was the case for one Network Rail staff member who undertook the Managing Suicidal Contacts course and later joined his local Samaritans: “The course was the catalyst, the final push I needed.”

• Trained rail employees recounting stories of helping friends or family members with bereavement or job loss, or colleagues experiencing trauma – One delegate from Samaritans Trauma Support Training recounted how he had met a colleague on a train home who had experienced a rail fatality that day: “He was very clearly still in shock and I was able to talk to him about what had happened”; a Network Rail staff member fed back how a colleague approached him to talk about how he’d contemplated his own suicide: “Following the course I felt much more confident talking to them about their feelings”.

Jason, Rob and Steve are really making a difference and empowering industry staff to identify, approach vulnerable people - ultimately saving lives. The team have a great ability to challenge preconceptions held by delegates on issues around both suicide on the railways and suicide more generally. Their fantastic delivery of this course has ensured that Jason, Rob and Steve are consistently rated 4.8 out of 5 for every course they deliver and receive excellent feedback including:

“Quite easily one of the best training courses I’ve attended. It was interesting and engaging, and I found I could relate the advice given to a variety of different situations” Network Rail (Wales) delegate feeding back on the Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts course.

"I would recommend this as the preferred method of training for anyone involved in the "chain of care" of rail staff of all grades." Northern Rail (LNW) delegate feeding back on the Samaritans Trauma Support Training course.“