Connecting people and communities is at the heart of rail's purpose. With a network that is at the same time national and local, rail is in a unique position to have a wider social impact. Rail Sustainable Development Principles. May 2016.
For over 10 years our Charity has supported artists and audiences across Suffolk facing health and financial barriers and discrimination. Since October 2014 these have included:
- Artists who are social isolated or/and in financial hardship.
- Children and young people with physical and learning disabilities through Activities Unlimited.
- Adults with poor mental health, low income, low confidence and employment skills through a CPD programme, volunteering, mentoring and Creative Employment Programme
- approximately 50% of the artists we have supported in one to one career development sessions have, without invitation, declared that they have challenges from poor mental health or physical health, caring responsibilities, financial concerns or sexual abuse.
- Daily/weekly Gallery visitors included adults with learning disabilities, socially isolated and frail elderly men and women.
Participant’s feedback that they value support which is tailored in response to their needs and within a safe and comfortable environment.
Our new way of working would fulfil long-held ambitions to benefit more vulnerable and disadvantaged people by extending services along the Ipswich to Cambridge rail corridor. Here, great wealth, such as the Newmarket racing industry, masks poverty and social exclusion, often in the same ward. Reports such as Hidden Needs have shown that in Suffolk:
• 26.5% of rural households do not own a vehicle.
• 23% of children in Ipswich are being brought up in poverty.
• 8-12% of 16-18 year olds are not in any form of education, employment or training in Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Ipswich (2007-10)
• 25,000 income deprived older people especially in Newmarket, Bury, Stowmarket, Needham Market and Ipswich. (2010)
• Forest Heath has a median gross income of £398 a week compared with £506 nationally.
• The number of over 65s is set to rise from 19% (2008) to 28% by 2033.
• 50% increase in deaths of mental health clients between 2013-15.
The railway provides a natural site for community cohesion partly because like a Gallery it is a non-stigmatised environment. In the UK Community Rail Partnerships such our proposed Mid-Suffolk one, act as a bridge between the train operator and local communities, charities and businesses. Smiths Row has consulted many such organisations since November 2014 including Havebury Housing Association, West Suffolk College, station adopters, Bury Society, train operating companies, Rail Delivery Group, Mid-Anglia Rail Passenger Association, Suffolk and Essex County Councils, Babergh Mid-Suffolk Council and Jo Churchill MP. With the support of The Cabinet Office we are currently consulting vulnerable or disadvantaged people living along the Ipswich to Cambridge rail corridor and the organisations which represent them so we can help more people and over a much wider area of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.