Transport for Wales has a policy of allowing staff to take two days off a year for volunteering, either locally in their communities, or nationally, supporting major charities.
They have many varied ways of doing this. A train guard dresses as an Imperial Storm Trooper from Star Wars to raise money for local and national causes, a train driver coordinates food parcels for the NHS and a train cleaner has spent 10 years volunteering to clean up the rivers, lakes and streams around Cardiff and south Wales.
During the storms earlier this year, a number also volunteered to help clean up the affected areas, something TfW fully supported.
Kevin Rankin is a train guard on the Valleys lines. He is also a storm trooper with the 501st Legion, a role he volunteered for after a number of personal tragedies.
“I felt like I had more to offer and wanted to help the charities and hospices that did so much in caring for my relatives in their last few months,” he explained. “I got my research head on and came across the 501st on YouTube. I immediately got to work signing up to the local UK forums and decided I wanted to be a Sandtrooper.”
Since then Kevin has attended the big Comic Cons, pop concerts, been on stage with famous music artists, been part of two full orchestral performances and attended movie releases.
“But, for me, the hospital Christmas visits have been the most rewarding and given the choice between a big event and a children’s ward, I’d pick the latter every time,” he added.
Marketing distribution manager Stella Pascos is a regular volunteer for the Huggard Centre, supporting rough sleepers. More recently, she has been helping Cardiff Council drop off groceries and supplies to people isolating.
“We get given a face mask and gel while we’re out dropping off food to the homes of those isolating,” said Stella. “I can only imagine what it must be like for those who don’t have a choice but to wear full PPE all day.’’
Train crew based at Shrewsbury station set up the ‘Shrewsbury Traincrew Tuck Shop’ in April 2017. Since then, Paul Roach, Dominic Eaton, Addy Sargent, Dafydd Thacker, Dave Callingham, David Card, Jessica Grace, Scott Jagger and Steven Holt have raised over £2000 for charity, as well as providing new supplies for their mess room and ‘quiet rooms’.
Train driver Simon Biggs and his colleagues at Carmarthen have raised almost £1,700 for their local hospital and ambulance stations. The money has been spent on food parcels for front line colleagues, distributed safely and hygienically.
Train cleaner Anthony Akhurst spends his volunteer time as a cleaner – but not on trains.
He has been a key member of the Cardiff Rivers Group for 10 years, in which time he’s waded into rivers, streams and lakes, pulling out damaging rubbish to leave the areas a better place for wildlife and visitors alike.
“It’s a bit of a busman’s holiday for a cleaner,” Anthony admitted. “Whilst it is in some way similar to my job, I don’t get to wade thigh-deep in mud, unless there has been an unfortunate toilet malfunction!
“I am very proud of what CRG do and I tell everyone I can. It gets me out of bed on my days off and the occasional afternoon sessions are welcome too, as they enable me to attend after the previous nightshift.”
TfW people and engagement director Marie Daly said: “I’ve been truly humbled to hear some of the fantastic stories of volunteering within our company. Another great example of how our people are demonstrating our values as an organisation.
“When we took over the Wales and Borders network, we set out to deliver our global consciousness locally and this is a great example of our commitment to the communities in which we operate.
“To reinforce this, we have processes in place to support our colleagues who want to do the right thing, giving them additional time off for volunteering where we can.
“People are investing their time, which is the most valuable thing any of us own, so I’d like to thank everyone who gives their time to remind us all of the goodness in our society.”