“Kim has been working in a customer facing role for GWR since 2017, Kim is a positive individual that lights up any room she walks in and has the ability to put a smile on anyone's face. Kim got promoted to a Conductor back in 2019 and at first found the role overwhelming, Covid had hit the railway hard and trains weren't busy. This meant the passenger that were using our services were people that needed extra support, Kim had become not only a guard but on occasions, a ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, this was not easy to do and many Guards avoided customer interaction all together but not Kim. One particular day Kim was on her way to Cardiff and a young lady got on, Kim was completing her revenue duties and asked the lady for a ticket. The response she got back was a cry for help, the lady didn't have a ticket and wasn't in a good frame of mind, Kim asked where are you trying to get to and didn't push for money off the lady?. The lady said anywhere away from here , in fact I'm going to jump in front of the train at some point. Kim decided she needed to take action and get this lady help. After the next stop Kim would have 12 mins until she would need to be at the door again so politely asked the lady to stay where she was and Kim would come back. Kim contacted BTP discreetly to see if they would come meet this lady and they said they would try to meet the train at some point!!, Kim sat opposite the lady and chatted, asking opened questions to try and build the picture of what was causing her to want to end her life but also get vital info to BTP via text in case she jumped off the train before they got on. They got to Newport and Kim knew there wasn't much time for help to arrive but luckily BTP arrive and jumped on board, they had uniform on and when they confronted the lady she got really anxious and panicked she started threatening to jump off the train and tried to run so the BTP decided to back off, they stay on board in another coach but when the train arrived at Cardiff the lady run off and the BTP weren't anywhere to be seen. Kim was meant to have a break at Cardiff but she was concern about the lady not getting the help she needed or tries to jump in front of a train in Cardiff Central so went looking for her , thankfully she hadn't gone far so Kim contact Cardiff's local police office and they came quickly to assist, they arrested the lady but this was to keep her safe. Kim contacted them the next day to see if the lady was ok and was told she needed sectioning to avoid her doing something to end her life, Kim felt sad that it had come to that but also a little relieved that this would be the start of this lady's support and recovery now, she was in the right place. Kim decided after her experience dealing with this individual that she wanted to help others and push for better training for the crew to be better prepare to deal with these vulnerable people so contacted the Samaritans and told myself about how she wanted to do more to help, Kim is now volunteering with the Safeguarding team within GWR and has told her story to railway magazine along with supporting Samaritans Bristol to spread to word on the training courses they provide. Kim is a true inspiration and a lifesaver, we found out a year down the line that the individual Kim helped was getting counselling and was in a better place.“
“Kim is a train manager working for GWR and has received a Gold award from the train company to recognise a life-saving intervention she made on a train. After the experience, Kim felt strongly about learning more and raising awareness, so took part in Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts course. Kim wants to encourage other frontline staff to sign up and inspire them to talk to passengers which could save a life. Kim’s whole family work in the rail industry and she was inspired to follow in their footsteps. Her mum is also a train manager, who has made interventions herself, and her dad a train driver.
Role on the railway
“As a train manager, my main role revolves around safety of the train. I do everything from tickets, to dispatching trains, customer service and fixing any problems. I’m always moving throughout the train checking if everyone is okay. Customer service is the most important thing for me. I love chatting to people. I can’t just be sat hiding away in the back cab, I always make sure I’m in the train checking in on everyone.”
“My family all work on the railway. My dad is a train driver, my mum is a train manager like me and did some of my training too. My brother works in control looking after CCTV in stations. I grew up surrounded by the railway – when I was about three or four, I’d sometimes go to work with my mum and walk through the older HS2 trains with her and pretend to do the buffet. They’re really proud that I’ve followed in their footsteps. When we’re together, all we talk about the whole time is trains!”
Managing Suicidal Contacts course
“In the past year, I’ve had two incidents with suicidal people on my train. The first person I was able to help them and was pleased to be given a Gold Award from GWR for saving their life, but the second person didn’t want to talk to me. After that, I emailed my manager to see if there was a course I could do as I felt I needed to learn more and do something to help those people, as well as other train crew who might be in that position. I personally feel there needs to be more training when you first start in the rail industry, to be able to manage and talk to vulnerable people, particularly on the frontline.
“So, they sent me the Samaritans ‘Managing Suicidal Contacts’ course and I said yes and signed up straight away. I learnt so much on the course – even about the charity, like the fact the helpline is confidential. Our trainer Jason was great and gave us tips on how to notice people, different techniques to get them to safety and how to talk to them. I really hope to use the skills and help others. It’s comforting to know that I can point people to Samaritans if they don’t want to talk to me.”
“The intervention I did last year and the young woman I saved will always stay with me – I’ll never ever forget her. I was at work one day, just going through the train as I usually do, checking tickets, and I saw a young woman sat with her legs crunched up and I noticed she looked really upset. I asked her if she had a ticket, but she completely ignored me. It was during the pandemic, so I asked if I was okay to sit down next to her and I asked her where she was travelling to. She told me she was going away because she wanted to kill herself. I knew I just had to keep talking to her and keep her with me so she was safe and wouldn’t try to run off the train and harm herself at the next stop. I asked her name which was similar to mine so that got a smile out of her. We talked about her job and she told me it wasn’t the first time that week that she’d tried to end her life and she’d been discharged from hospital.
“When we reached the next station, I needed to open and close the doors for the passengers, so I told her to stay where she was and I’d be back. At that point I made a call to our control centre and explained I was with a girl who wanted to end her life and was really worried about when we got to the other end, so wanted somebody to meet us off the train. They arranged for BTP officers to come and see her. I continued to chat to her and didn’t leave her side once.
“At the next stop, the police officers got on but she didn’t want to talk to them, she only wanted to talk to me. We agreed that one police officer would travel the rest of the way with us. When we got to our end destination there was supposed to be local police there to meet her, but when we arrived I couldn’t see them, so I was nervous to open the doors in case she ran. But I could see her pushing through, so I opened them and then followed her off the train to make sure she was okay. She went under the subway and the local police officers met her there and started chatting to her, so I went back to sort my train knowing she was in safe hands.
“I hadn’t been a train manager for very long and afterwards, I saw another guard who had been on my training with me and I just burst into tears. It just really hit home because the woman was younger than me and I was really hoping she’d be safe now. I just needed to offload and get rid of the emotion. I phoned my mum afterwards and told her and she was really proud of me. The following day I saw the BTP officer who had travelled with us and I asked if he knew what had happened to her and he said she was taken to a place to get help. I was so relieved and realised I basically saved her life because I called for the police to intervene, otherwise she could have walked away and we wouldn’t know if she was alive.
“GWR gave me a Gold Award in September last year, which I was really proud of. There’s going to be an Award Ceremony this year too which I hope to go to. I’ve got it framed on my mantlepiece at home so I can always look at it and remember.”
Encouraging others and advocating for mental health awareness
“Since that happened, I feel so strongly about encouraging other train crews to learn and do the training. We need to go through the train and pick out those people that just need somebody to talk to and somebody to offload to. If I hadn’t done that that day, she might have killed herself. I want to raise awareness for others who need support too – other people’s happiness is really important to me. My mum also recently helped someone who she saw on her way to work.”“
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