Three Govia Thameslink Railway volunteers are spending their time in a satellite CCTV suite at East Croydon, looking out for vulnerable people on the rail network who need assistance at this stressful time.
They all have roles that would normally see them out and about on the network. However, due to the current pandemic, some of their duties have been restricted, so they have volunteered to help monitor GTR’s vast network of CCTV cameras instead.
Of course, the train operator’s CCTV is already manned 24/7, but the role of the volunteers is to bolster surveillance at a time when more people are likely to be feeling vulnerable. Already, there have been 11 occasions in the last six weeks where a vulnerable person has been identified as being in need of assistance.
In addition, they look out for any antisocial behaviour or hazards to people’s welfare, and raise the alarm with the appropriate authorities, such as the British Transport Police.
Dan Moon is a Brighton-based passenger host who has worked on the railway for 13 years. The 40-year-old, who lives in Brighton, said: “There are a lot of vulnerable people out there at the moment and we’re the eyes to spot them.
“You might not see anything for five days and then there may be one day when you spot someone who is vulnerable and get help to them, possibly saving that person’s life.”
Colin Latimer, also based in Brighton, is a fraud control officer. He has been spending five days a week helping at the satellite suite and has found that being able to put his time to good use has helped his own mental health.
The 55-year-old, who has worked on the railway for 19 years and lives at Three Bridges, said: “It has saved my sanity. I have suffered with mental health issues in the past and being involved in this has helped. I feel as though I’m doing something worthwhile and productive. It’s vital to have people looking out for the vulnerable; we may pick up something that no-one else has.”
Abby-Rose Boon is normally based at Luton, where she works as a passenger host. She has worked on the railway for 13 of her 30 years. “I have always wanted to do CCTV monitoring; I find it quite fascinating,” she said.
“We work alongside the BTP in our current roles and it’s interesting to see the other side of the job. We’re keeping the railway network safe for the key workers who need to travel, and it’s been really rewarding helping out.”
GTR established its Caring for the Vulnerable initiative in March 2020, with a focus on ensuring employees, customers and communities felt protected and supported where possible.
The initiative includes a programme of activities to help people stay connected and an e-learning course that provides participants with an understanding of who is a vulnerable person, how to spot them and how to help them if they are need.
GTR’s head of security and emergency resilience Tony Holland said: “At a time of great national challenge, it’s important to not only ensure key workers can travel by train and do the incredible work they do, but to also reach out and support those who may need our help too.”