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Huddersfield-based colleague, Sheila Anderson, has made a life-saving intervention after Samaritans training with Network Rail.
With 43% of people in Yorkshire rating their small talk as ‘good’*, Samaritans are relaunching their Small Talk Saves Lives campaign
The campaign aims to give the wider public the confidence to trust their instincts and, like Sheila, act if they see someone who needs help
Huddersfield-based railway colleague, Sheila Anderson, has made an intervention to save someone’s life after feeling empowered to apply the skills she learnt through Samaritans’ ‘managing suicidal contacts’ training with Network Rail.
With 43% of people in Yorkshire rating their small talk as ‘good’*, Samaritans are relaunching their ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry. It hopes to give passengers and the wider public the confidence to trust their own instincts and, like Sheila, act if they see someone who needs help by starting a conversation.
Sheila, a Learning & Development Administrator, has worked for TransPennine Express in Huddersfield for six years and took part in Samaritans’ ‘managing suicidal contacts’ training with Network Rail, as part of the rail industry partnership.
In early 2020, Sheila was heading out for her weekly food shop, when she saw someone who needed help – trusting her instincts, she struck up a conversation and managed to get them the help they needed.
Sheila Anderson, Learning & Development Administrator for TransPennine Express, said: “Around the beginning of last year, I was on the way to my weekly shop when I came across a young woman in floods of tears. I had taken part in Samaritans’ Managing Suicidal Contacts training over four years ago, but something inside me told me something was wrong, so I stopped the car and slowly approached her. I asked, “has something happened to bring you here today?” and I could tell that instantly broke her thoughts. She told me her name and said she was struggling to cope as she wasn’t able to get the support she needed.
“I then encouraged her to move to somewhere quieter to get her to a safer place and she asked me to call the hospital she was at. Another woman stopped and kindly offered to help. She hugged the young lady and made small talk, whilst I arranged for an ambulance.
“I’d encourage everyone, if they see someone who needs help, just say anything – anything that’s going to break that cycle of thought. Even though I was lucky enough to have Samaritans’ training in the rail industry, I think I’m quite an observant and caring person and since that experience I’m even more hyper-sensitive and would do the same again in a heartbeat.”
Network Rail offers this training by Samaritans to give rail staff the skills they need to help identify vulnerable people and get them to a place of safety. Over the past 10 years, the partnership has trained over 23,000 rail and BTP staff to look out for passengers and make conversation if they feel someone might be vulnerable.
Olly Glover, Head of Safety, Health and Environment for Network Rail’s North and East route, said: “At Network Rail, we’re committed to doing all we can to reduce the number of suicides, which is why we work with Samaritans to train railway colleagues in managing this sensitive and vital issue.
“We’re proud to be supporting Small Talk Saves Lives and encourage passengers to join our staff to look out for someone who may be in emotional distress and start up a conversation. Suicide is preventable, so let’s work together to start conversations and save lives.”
The campaign is a reminder that, like Sheila, everyone has the skills to start a conversation with someone who needs help. By trusting our instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, a little small talk and a simple question, such as “Hello, what’s the time?” can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help start them on the journey to recovery. It could save a life.
Find out more about Small Talk Saves Lives at: www.samaritans.org/smalltalksaveslives or join the conversation on social media using #SmallTalkSavesLives.