This year, we’ve been busy delivering our core projects and building on the success we’ve had with existing programmes such as Getaway and Let’s Talk Travel. We’ve also grown the GCRP team and are delighted to have on board some fantastic new partners. The collective drive and commitment to our values and vision is already making an impact.
Our Vision: A society where transport is more inclusive, sustainable and better connects people.
As we get ready to wrap up the end of the year and head into the festive season for a short break, we’d like to say a huge thank you to;
Our key funders Great Western Railway, Cross Country Trains, Gloucestershire County Council and Cotswold District Council
Our amazing partners, including The Music Works, Visit Gloucestershire, Creative Sustainability, The Travel Foundation, Atkins, Cotswolds National Landscape, The Friendship Café, Strike A Light, Inclusion Gloucestershire, Transport for Wales, University of Gloucestershire, GFirst LEP, Community Rail Network Stagecoach and so many more...!
The incredible volunteers at our station adoption groups including Stonehouse in Bloom, The Royal Agricultural College, Cotswold Line Promotion Group and other volunteers across the network of stations in Gloucestershire!
As a round-up, we’ve summarised below some of our key programmes and look forward to continuing this work into 2023 and beyond.
Getaway our Youth and Education programme engages young people from underrepresented communities to build confidence and independence through train travel and access to the countryside. Funded by GWR’s Community Fund and involving key community organisations and local schools, this autumn alone we have been able to take over 120 young people on day trips by train, helping them to build their confidence and explore new places. We were also thrilled that the programme won first place in this year’s Community Rail Network awards for the category ‘Involving Diverse Groups’.
Looking ahead to 2023, we are developing activity packs to help young people understand the place that rail travel has in reducing carbon emissions and we’ll have even more trips and fun adventures by train!
GCRP continues to work towards removing barriers for young people in Gloucester. With support from the Department for Transport, the Community Rail Network and University of West England, our pilot project ‘Movement’ is part of the national Tackling Loneliness with Transport scheme aiming to connect young people from underrepresented backgrounds with new experiences in the countryside and beyond. The programme, led by Alayne McDonald, kicked off with our first trip on 21st October with 19 students from Al Ashraf Secondary School in Gloucester travelling by train to visit Rodborough Common in Stroud. There, we were joined by Cotswold National Landscapes, who taught the students about conservation, tree identification, wildlife and the importance of maintaining these beautiful public spaces. The programme aims to build young people’s confidence using sustainable transport, and one student commented about why they had previously avoided using the train,
“I want to be able to go on the train on my own when I’m older, but this is more comfortable in a group with my friends”.
A further trip took place on the 27th October, where we were joined by 11 young people from Music Works in Gloucester, some of whom rarely use the train or were using it for the first time ever!
“It was nice to spend time with my friends and it was nice to get to know new people.”
“It was a vibe and educational.”
“It was great being with so many people.”
And the results speak for themselves, with 77% of young people who have attended a Movement trip saying they enjoyed spending time with others, and 73% said they felt more confident about travelling by train.
Let’s Talk Travel
Our Let’s Talk Travel initiative, led by Anna Reeves, has continued to build travel confidence amongst residents of Gloucestershire.
Some key highlights include.
40+ organisations contacted; 5000 resources shared.
Meetings with teams from 20+ organisations.
125+ professionals participated.
200+ conversations at open days and events
50+ users attended workshops
As a result of the programme, this year, employability professionals and tutors feel better equipped to support their clients, individuals are also more able to find journey information and develop new problem-solving strategies, learners and Jobseekers have also expressed greater confidence in buying tickets, finding their way around the station, finding seats on the train, and identifying discounts. We’ve also helped people to develop safety strategies and deal with travel anxiety and those with mobility issues are more aware of Passenger Assist and have increased confidence about their ability to cope on a journey.
Oxfordshire Feasibility Study
Based on our successful countywide approach at GCRP, we are now casting our sights beyond Gloucestershire, considering the feasibility of a community rail partnership for Oxfordshire. Merging a leisure and tourism focus with health and wellbeing perspectives, we aim to create a framework that nurtures a growth in visitors arriving by train and allows communities to flourish. Research commenced in October 2022, with a feasibility report due to be completed by March 2023.
Connecting New Communities
In 2022 we continued engaging with developers, local authorities, transport operators, and most importantly local communities across Gloucestershire, to support and promote transport and accessibility. Through events at local community organisations and travel plan coordinators, we aimed to empower communities to take their own action on the transport and accessibility agenda, focusing on the journey routes and trip types that matter most to them. The summer event in Great Oldbury had a fantastic buzz, including live music, Dr Bike sessions with other freebies, and explored best practices for inclusive engagement and consultation. Watch the video here.
Building on our work producing the Access and Connectivity guides, we appointed Molly Beebee as our Access and Inclusion Lead at GCRP. We are working with Inclusion Gloucestershire to audit 20 visitor destinations in Gloucestershire, which we selected in consultation with 8 Tourism and Destination Marketing specialists in Gloucestershire. This will inform recommendations on how to promote Gloucestershire destinations to wider audiences, and ensure that visitors needing accessibility information can enjoy their visit more by ensuring correct and supportive access information is available.
TrainTripper is our innovative new platform that encourages people to explore like a local by train. The platform promotes car-free leisure trips in and around Gloucestershire highlighting some of the incredible local attractions the county has to offer. Coming in early 2023, the platform will allow users to build personalised itineraries to help plan their trips, with train travel at the heart of the journey planning. Working with four key Destination Management and Marketing Organisations and supported by Great Western Railway, Cross Country and Visit Gloucestershire keep your eyes peeled for more updates in the new year!
Taste for Travel
Our local leisure maps continue to be popular with local communities and we’ll be adding more maps in 2023 to the current maps for Cheltenham, Stroud, Stonehouse and Lydney. The maps are focused around helping people to discover their local areas or explore new places via walking and cycling and focus on places within easy access of the station. We worked with community groups, local artists and independent food and drink businesses to create sixteen trails across the four key locations. We’re excited to be working on new leisure maps which will be available in 2023 including a food and drink trail for Gloucestershire. View our current leisure maps here.
This year, we have also updated the galleries at Gloucester, Stroud and Stonehouse stations this year, featuring artwork by the ‘What could I do?’ youth activists project, in partnership with Creative Sustainability, Strike A Light, The RYSE and supported by Gloucestershire Youth Climate Group, Planet Cheltenham and JOLT Gloucester. Find out more about the exhibition here. And discover more about Gloucestershire Youth Climate Group here. We’re already looking at new exhibitions into 2023 and beyond!
Events and awards
As well as supporting our key projects, the team has been involved in numerous events and awards including the annual Community Rail Network Awards which took place in October. We were delighted to have won first place in the Involving Diverse Groups category for our Getaway programme. The partnership also came third in Influencing Positive Change & Sustainability for Let’s Talk Travel and were delighted to see the collaborative effort for the Platform Rail Community Education Scheme win first place in this category combing the efforts from Gloucestershire, Severnside, Worcestershire and TransWilts CRPs. We also attended the First ever Gloucestershire Net Zero event with Visit Gloucestershire and spoke to event attendees about the role of CRPs supporting the net zero agenda.
What’s ahead – 2023
These are just some of our key project updates and we have a lot more that we’re are working on into next year, including developing sustainability messaging with a group of young people in the Gloucester area, continuing to support local station adoption groups, refreshing our station exhibitions, and launching our new Rail to Leisure Toolkits aimed at better connecting CRPs, DMO’s and TOC’s, find out more about the tool kit here.
So here's to a well deserved break and we look forward to continuing to work with our amazing funders, partners, volunteers and colleagues in 2023!