Southern fosters blossoming partnership for adults with learning difficulties

A 15-year-old partnership between Southern Railway and a charity for adults with learning difficulties is once again delighting thousands of passengers with fresh floral displays at stations in West Sussex.

Funded by Southern, a team of volunteers from The Aldingbourne Trust near Arundel, has been out and about planting and installing colourful beds and hanging baskets that they will maintain until the autumn (see editors’ notes for the full list of stations).


Karen Tyrrell, Visitor and Enterprise Operations Manager, said: “Our volunteers get loads of feedback from passengers getting off the trains who say how fabulous the flowers look. It makes them proud of what they do and know they’re contributing to their local community.


“It’s great for their mental well-being too. Some of the volunteers used to spend a lot of their time quite isolated at home, especially after the pandemic, and this ‘Adopt A Station’ enterprise with Southern encourages our volunteers to get out and about to meet people and be more social.


“One volunteer has just lost a very close relative and visiting the stations to tend to the plants gives them a sense of purpose at an unsettling time in their personal life.”


The ‘Adopt A Station’ programme also gives its volunteer skills in communication, independent travel and health and safety.


Volunteer Kieran Hellyer, 28, from Bognor (click here to download case study) said: “I’m more confident. It’s interesting and fun as well. We’ve made friends and help each other. We’re friends with the station staff as well.”


Tracy Jarvis, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern, said: “The people in our organisation live and work in the communities we serve and we really care about creating a positive impact locally. Funding this enterprise helps the trust to demonstrate to the wider community that everybody has a part to play in society. It doesn’t matter what your ability is, there’s a value you can add to your community.”


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