Network Rail set to spread Christmas cheer at London station

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London Euston Station
James Graham
LONDON – Network Rail will partner with area charities to host 200 of London’s homeless on Christmas Day at London Euston Station. The company, which maintains Britain’s 20,000-mile rail network, is opening one of London’s most important stations to welcome the guests. The charities Streets Kitchen and St. Mungo’s will work to support Network Rail.

While colleagues enjoy seasonal time off with their families during the festive season, around 30 volunteers from Network Rail will give up their Christmas Day to work the event. The station concourse will be filled with decorations and tables will be laid for dinner so that the guests can enjoy a full traditional British lunch of turkey and trimmings and some company. Streets Kitchen will make and serve the dinner with help from the volunteers.

In recent years there have been no passenger railroads operating in the U.K. on Christmas Day. Stations like Euston remain shut and locked, creating the opportunity for events such as this.

“Using a station to give homeless people a Christmas dinner and some festive cheer is a great thing to do,” says Steve Naybour, head of transformation in Network Rail’s track team. He is leading the team running the event. “Thousands and thousands of my colleagues will already be working on Christmas Day to improve the railway for passengers. Working on Christmas Day is pretty much par for the course for many of us who work for Network Rail but this year, because I wasn’t scheduled to work, myself and a handful of colleagues came up with this plan to feed some of London’s homeless instead.

“St. Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen have been fantastic. And I’m proud to say we’ve had lots of interest from Network Rail colleagues to volunteer to come along on the day to help out.
“All of this is possible due to great support from the station team, British Transport Police and local and national suppliers including the Pret Foundation Trust, Blacks outdoor clothing, Virgin Trains and Abellio – they’ve been amazing in making this event happen.”

Joe Hendry, Euston Station manager, adds, “The station team is delighted to bring this unique event to life.

“Stations are at the heart of local communities and we want to provide a legacy through good relationships with organizations like St. Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen that supports the homeless community in and around our station long after the buzz of Christmas has died down.”

Beth Norden, community and events manager for St. Mungo’s, says, "Many people become homeless because of relationship breakdowns so Christmas can be a particularly lonely time for some of our residents. Our thanks to Network Rail, their staff and volunteers, for helping some of our residents in Camden and neighboring boroughs feel included in the community this Christmas Day."

Tasks on the day to be carried out by volunteers from Network Rail and St. Mungo’s will include helping Streets Kitchen serve the food, welcoming guests with Christmas cheer and chatting with them during the day; clearing away dishes and cleaning; moving chairs and tables; and supervising station areas, including restrooms, the concourse, and exits. Station staff and British Transport Police will manage security.

Naybour is delighted that his idea has been so warmly received and will not cost taxpayers a penny. “This is a great example of businesses and communities coming together to deliver a great event free of charge. Everything, including people’s time, has been donated,” he says. “And I can’t think of a better way to spend my Christmas Day – it even beats working on the railway!”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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