The RailStaff Awards 2024

Nominations for Samaritans Lifesaver Award

Martine Gravil

Said the following about Sylvia Wilson:

“I am nominating Sylvia for the Samaritans Lifesaver Award because she has perfectly demonstrated how "Small Talk Saves Lives".

On 21 April 2021, Sylvia, who is normally based within headquarters but who had been working from home due to the ongoing pandemic, was at a station as part of a site visit with a project team that were looking at suitable locations in the station for the potential installation of vending machines when she was alerted to a lady sitting on a bench at the end of the platform. Another manager was on site and told Sylvia the lady seemed distressed and he was going to contact the BTP.

Sylvia removed her orange hi-vis vest to look less official, and approached the lady. She was in a distressed state: crying and shaking with her head in her hands. She told Sylvia that she felt like she could no longer carrying on living her life due to recently being diagnosed with a medical condition.

Whilst Sylvia was chatting to the lady, her mobile phone kept ringing. It was her daughter. Sylvia encouraged her to let her daughter know she was okay, but she did not want to answer the call. Sylvia continued chatting to the lady and eventually the lady handed her phone to Sylvia and asked her to call her daughter back, asked Sylvia to speak to her daughter on her behalf. As the sun was shining, Sylvia could not see the screen clearly and identified and used this opportunity to get the lady to move into the booking office and to a place of safety. The police then called the lady's mobile phone from an unknown number and the lady answered. She became increasingly distressed thinking that she was in trouble with the police. The police asked the lady to pass the phone to Sylvia, who liaised with them to ensure the lady's safety. She then reassured the lady she was absolutely not in trouble and that the police just wanted to make sure she was safe. At this point, a nurse from local hospital arrived and overheard the conversation and offered to take the lady back to the hospital. The lady went willingly with the nurse and thanked Sylvia for what she had done.

I believe Sylvia to be worthy of this award as she was working out with her normal work environment and managed to identify and appropriately react to this distressing situation.

Sylvia reported the incident using the Samaritans Intervention Form and in the box asking what advice she would give to others in this situation she said "I think previous training on the importance of talking and distracting a person who was in a distressed state helped and gave me some confidence. I chatted as if it was a friend in need of help. Asking questions and trying to establish what was going on. Letting them know that there was help there, things will change and get better."“