The ongoing community-focused relationship between Everton Free School and Merseyrail has recently been recognised at the National Rail Award where the company received the ‘Sustainable Development’ area honour.
Leading rail provider Merseyrail is committed to sustainability and, following a review of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and RSSB’s Rail Sustainable Development Principles, identified areas where it could make a difference and decided that all of the operator’s strategies should contribute towards achieving a sustainable railway in some way.
A number of Merseyrail wide key initiatives were put forward to the judges as evidence of Merseyrail’s commitment to sustainable development, with the main component being ‘The Blue Garden and Inclusion Project’ in association with Everton Free School.
Everton Football Club contacted Merseyrail to explore the possibility of adopting Kirkdale station to help regenerate it, in a similar way to how stations have been adopted on the network with the main aim of enhancing the feeling of community by engaging with local young people and open up new communication channels with what is often seen as a hard-to-reach group.
Pupils from Everton Free School installed a ‘Blue Garden’ at the station as part of Everton’s ongoing commitment to make the area surrounding Goodison Park ‘more blue’.
This included installing three planters that the students had designed and made which incorporated Goodison Park’s famous Archibald Leitch design as well as the Football Club donating three stadium seats for passengers to sit in the garden area. An information panel has been installed to explain the significance of the garden and the project.
Since the opening of the Blue Garden, students from the school regularly attend to the upkeep and maintenance of the plants and have gained a real sense of ownership for a space at their local train station.
Free School learners have also been given the opportunity as a result of the project to explore the career pathways that working on the railway can offer. There are already a number of other plans under way to involve pupils from the school in community projects with Merseyrail.
Speaking about Merseyrail’s award submission, National Rail Awards judges said: “Merseyrail is an excellent example of how a train operator can become an integral part of the community it serves and the mutual benefits that can be achieved through commitment to sustainable business practices.”
Congratulations to all involved!