Blog

08 Mar 2021

International Women's Day and Community Rail

Ddiwrnod Rhyngwladol y Menywod ac Rheilffyrdd Cymunedol

Rail

It’s International Women's Day and we're celebrating some of the fantastic women in transport. Melanie Lawton has shared her experiences of working with the great women in our Community Rail team.

My name is Melanie Lawton. I am the Community Rail Manager with Transport for Wales. Today and every day I #ChooseToChallenge.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. My role and the wider Community Rail team are committed to engaging customers and communities. My work is built on positive and engaging relationships with people and colleagues to ensure they feel proud of Transport for Wales.  Our brand is strong, we’re human and we value honesty and authenticity.

I’m passionate about my work as we help transform people lives, from building confidence to travel on our network to supporting people to get that job interview or to planting flowers to make our stations more welcoming. Our work makes a difference to people’s lives.

At Transport for Wales we value our family. Whilst I’m a Manager, I’m also a mum, a sister, a friend, a co-parent and a mentor. This pandemic has challenged every one of us.  We value being our authentic, honest selves and as we moved online, we invited people into our virtual homes, our safe spaces. It’s fair to say that with the support of my colleagues, my railway family, we have the support to get us through tough days, weeks and a year of unprecedented challenges and home schooling!

I feel privileged to surround myself with many great empowered women.  Sherry, a Station Adopter at Prestatyn station - known fondly as Dame Sherry - is a person I respect and admire for her work at the award-winning station and also in her community. A proud graceful lady, immaculately dressed and the principal volunteer organizer, she oversees up to 40 volunteers at the station.

Sherry is not alone in our 200+ team of volunteers across the network. Christine at Chirk is a proud guardian of another award-winning station, whilst Chris at North Llanrwst is a creative inspiration bringing together ‘optimists’ to bring life and happiness at the station though planters, artwork and get togethers for charity - a place you will find me if it involves tea and cake!

The wider Community Rail team are forging a path filled with community conversations, positive engagement and rewarding social impact. Karen is a Community Rail Officer in North Wales. She works closely with Sharon, a Partnerships and Social Impact Director at one of the host organisations, Creating Enterprise. They are an empowered team who are leading the way in partnership collaborations and ambitious plans for 2021 including a Community Hub at Llandudno station, a first for Transport for Wales.

Jennifer, Dawn, Zoe and Evie are new to our railway family, forming a new Community Rail Partnership during 2019, South West Wales Connected, within 4TheRegion. The vision they have for their region is innovative and raising the bar in the Community Rail world.  From hosting visioning events to planning a series of wellbeing activities from our stations, they are creating new spaces at stations and Jennifer is leading the way helping people who are socially isolated join in recreational walks from stations.

Rebecca in the Heart of Wales Community Rail Partnership is leading the way proactively promoting community resilience projects and the Heart of Wales walking trail through their social media channels and online presence. Sheila is leading the way working with young people at Gobowen Café and the station building restoration at Gobowen station, whilst Claire has one of the most scenic railways in the world and is passionate about rail tourism and the Cambrian railway line.

This past year has been one of the most challenging our industry has faced, and at my side every step of the way is Rhiannon from Community Rail Network. Together we’ve become a really strong team. We’ve worked through challenges, recruited new officers and developed a mentoring programme for our wider team.  Rhiannon’s key strengths are identifying, engaging and bringing more diverse people and organisations into our community rail partnerships whilst supporting our new groups to deliver amazing innovative work.

The Community Rail team and our railway family across the network continues to strive to challenge and make a difference in their communities. We’re raising the bar here in Wales and the Borders.  We’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions and together.

Do you #ChooseToChallenge?