Digital editor Cara-Louise Scott reports on Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign at West Midlands train stations
Content Warning: This article mentions mental health and suicide.
Three major train stations in the West Midlands are supporting Samaritans’ new Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. Banbury station, Stafford station and Birmingham New Street station will have volunteers at their stations across March to show passengers how small talk could save someone’s life.
Recent research from Samaritans revealed that 50% of people in the West Midlands ‘wouldn’t feel confident approaching and speaking to someone they don’t know if they were concerned about them in public.’
However, 37% of people in the West Midlands thought that the best way to start a conversation with a stranger would be to give them a smile. 29% said they would say ‘Excuse me’, 36% said they’d make eye contact, 20% would make a comment about the weather, and 17% would ask a question.
Chief Executive Officer of Samaritans, Julie Bentley, said: ‘We know first-hand how life-changing that conversation could be. There is no evidence to suggest that you will make the situation worse.’
Network Rail and Samaritans will both be around at events across the country in March to speak to passengers about the new campaign, to highlight the importance of conversation and provide myth busting leaflets to make people more confident in speaking to people who might need help.
Recently appearing on TV screens, Samaritans have launched a campaign film in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry. The video shows people that just a little small talk, like asking ‘where can I get a coffee?’, can be the thing it takes to stop someone’s suicidal thoughts and save their life.
Samaritans is a charity that provides emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, particularly those at risk of suicide. Small Talk Saves Lives launched in 2017 but has recently had more awareness due to the new video. Their aim is to raise awareness within railway stations and other public settings about how we need to trust our instincts and start a small conversation if we think someone might need help. This specific campaign is running from 21st February to 12th March 2023.
Network Rail’s Central route head of stations and customer relations, Steven Ireland, said: ‘We’re really proud to be working alongside Samaritans volunteers to empower our passengers to look out for one another and have the confidence to strike up a conversation if someone needs support. If you’re travelling through one of the stations, please stop and have a chat with our volunteers.’
If you or someone you know needs to speak to Samaritans, you can call them on 116 123 or visit their website here.