The RailStaff Awards 2024

Samantha Winfield

Great Western Railway

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Nominations for Health & Wellbeing Award

Dominic Carey - **HAS LEFT**

Said the following about Samantha Winfield:

“Great Western Railway (GWR) is one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, part of the First Group of companies, operating the Western network since 1996, rebranding ourselves as GWR in 2015. We employ over 6000 people across our network and we carry more than one and a half million customers over two million single journeys on 10,000 services every week. People are at the heart of our business and our ethos is that we are 'greater together'.

Samantha has been a true star since becoming a Wellbeing Champion a few years ago, supporting the depot with a listening ear, setting up tea and talk events, virtually during the initial Covid restrictions, then face to face, in the Welsh depots later in the summer of 2021. Alongside her activity to support others directly, she also worked to raise money for lots of local charities, developing new relationships with local business and community groups, and through her efforts helped to make Cardiff Central a more place in less positive times.

She volunteered to become an official GWR Wellbeing Champion so she could better support the Cardiff depot with wellbeing throughout the COVID lockdown. Her focus included helping the team stay active and health, physically and mentally – she was directly responsible for keeping the team positively connected during the challenges of the pandemic, and they looked forward to her weekly wellbeing sessions, the yoga classes and all the other activities she set up – the team was very vocal in their enthusiasm, acknowledging the benefits created through her efforts.

Looking beyond the need sof her own team and depot, Samantha recognised that there was much more that could be done, most notably to support those in the wider community who were struggling during the lockdown. She decided to focus on supporting people who were suffering from domestic violence, and she engaged with DASH (Domestic Abuse Stops Here), a charity that was working in the Cardiff area trying to address the increases in domestic abuse cases created by the pressures of lockdown. Her first action was to design a new fundraising strategy. Her first action was to set up a GWR charity auction, and she engaged with colleagues from all over the network to secure a range of quality (donations) items. She also brought colleagues together, offering them all with an opportunity to get involved in the promotion and organisation. As a consequence of her efforts, she was able to raise £366 which was subsequently match funded by GWR to significantly increase the funds ultimately donated to DASH. The gift was gratefully received by DASH who sent a personal Thank You letter to Samantha in recognition of her efforts.

During the middle of 2021 Samantha decided to design and map out a comprehensive local wellbeing engagement programme focused on improving emotional resilience - she took her colleagues through a journey of 30 days of mindfulness, each day providing a bespoke exercise which supported improved mental wellbeing.

Even on her days off, her dedication to this initiative was so great that she continued to send these messages out and ensure that the positive impact was sustained. Her thought process was, even if it could reach one person who was struggling, it would make the whole effort worth it.

Without a doubt, Samantha has been instrumental in promoting better health amongst colleagues, and by building collaborative relationships with local and national wellbeing organisations she has been able to secure access to improved wellbeing resources and literature for local colleagues. These have supplemented GWR’s core offer, enabling a more local flavour to wellbeing provision in the Cardiff and surrounding area, one that better meets a wider range of needs. As an example, she acted to link up with Newport's ‘Wellbeing Walks’ and built a new network of people to help set up new activities to support local people with mental health.

Through all this work she has had a much broader impact beyond basic wellbeing, helping to improve awareness across GWR of important issues like breast and testicular cancer. This actvity led to her creating a new library of wellbeing resources for Cardiff, Swindon and Bristol.

She has worked in her own time to improve her personal knowledge of wellbeing through workshop attendance and open learning, including:

Action for Children - Approach to helping young people build mental health resilience Superwellness - Assisting employers to create a safe workplace for all employees

Menopause - A chance for positive change

Always striving to do more, and be better at helping others, Samantha is also keen to promote the work of others in the wellbeing space.

To assist in that endeavour she has taught herself to be fully effective in the social media space, developing new skills. These have also enabled her to add to her growing portfolio of content and activity, and example being her creation of a Yammer group called ‘Time Out’ which continues to offer colleagues across GWR with an opportunity to post positive images/posts, and provide a dedicated space for collaborative mindfulness.

She has recently focussed Menopause, and in order to support GWR’s wider actvity in this space more effectively, she decided to apply to become a Menopause Peer Trainer, taking on even greater responsibility in her own time and a larger personal workload in the wellbeing space.

Her commitment, energy and passion is unswerving and it's evident that she greatly cares about the wellbeing of her colleagues and her community. Colleagues from other depots like Swansea and Bristol often comment about the enthusiasm Samantha continues to display in promoting wellbeing and local charity events, and her passion is certainly infectious.

Due to her efforts we now have over 25 Wellbeing Champions active in the Cardiff area, and this is greatly down to how she has blazed an inspirational trail for others to follow. She is without doubt pro-actively creating an environment both locally and company wide that supports wellbeing and is certainly a powerfully positive driving force within the Central region.

An inspiration and a selfless enabler of others, she very much deserves some time in the spotlight, and to be properly recognised as a true rail person of the year.“