On Thursday 26 November the ScotRail in the community team held their first ever virtual awards ceremony to celebrate all of the amazing people that give up their time and energy to make Scotland’s stations look beautiful.
Normally the ceremony takes place in person, but of course this year that couldn’t happen. The team couldn’t let the year pass without showing their appreciation. So, like a lot of things this year, it went virtual. It was a brilliant afternoon of love, laughter and togetherness.
We’re always on the lookout for more volunteers at our stations, particularly in Scotland’s Central Belt, so if you fancy helping out in your community, read on for more information.
Through our Adopt-a-station programme, we currently have more than 1,200 volunteers working their magic on 260 of ScotRail’s stations across the country. And what a difference they make, bringing big splashes of colour to local communities.
Who are the ScotRail volunteers?
Just like our stations, our adopters are a unique and varied bunch. They include individual volunteers, local community groups, charities, schools, businesses and local organisations. We’re lucky to have lots of local community volunteers undertake work to improve the physical environment of lots of our stations. The work usually includes activities such as planting and looking after planters, station gardens, information boards and much more.
2020 has been a tough year for our volunteers, because for the most part of the year they couldn’t access the stations because of lockdown and restrictions. Our adopt-a-station programme isn’t just about benefiting Scotland’s stations, it provides lots of benefits for the volunteers too.
John Shackleton, a Portlethen Social Gardening Group member said:
"I have been a member of the group for a number of years now. We alternate (coronavirus permitting), between cultivating the Primary School garden with the children and tending the gardens along the platforms at Portlethen Station. As I am retired and no longer meet people with my job, it gives me a chance to get out and do something useful in the community and meet other people who are similarly at a loose end, and keep the railway station looking bright, tidy and welcoming to passengers leaving or alighting, or even a pleasant glimpse of colour for longer distance travellers as they whiz past."
Giving back to local communities
With all the difficulties of this year, it says a lot about our wonderful volunteers that when they couldn’t get into the stations, they turned to other ways to support their local communities. Some of the Community Rail Programmes and volunteers began to meet virtually using technology to keep the support and friendship going. Volunteers also helped deliver essential items to their neighbours, raised funds for their local foodbanks and provided additional support to local organisations needing an extra pair of hands. They truly are a caring bunch of people.
Welcoming volunteers back to the stations
When we were able to welcome the volunteers back to the stations, all safely following our Five Rules for Safer Stations Visits, they returned in the highest of spirits with energy in abundance. With just a short period of time, they were able to tidy, plant and get things ready for winter. We truly appreciate all of the efforts over the past year and we can’t wait to see what 2021 holds.
*All photos used in this article were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.