When 'Blue Monday' became 'Brew Monday' for train travellers

Torbay Weekly

Staff from South Devon train company Great Western Railway joined Samaritans volunteers at stations, handing out tea bags and talking to passengers about the importance of having a chat.

The third Monday in January is sometimes referred to as ‘the most difficult day of the year’, but the Samaritans were highlighting that there’s no such thing as ‘Blue Monday’ as people can feel a range of emotions any day of the year - and GWR turned the day into a Brew Monday!

Staff at stations, depots and offices across the GWR network and used by South Devon passengers also shared the warmth of a conversation thanks to a special ‘Coffee Brewlette’.

The train operator already hosts a successful ‘Coffee Roulette’ each month, where colleagues from different parts of the business are picked at random and matched up for a cuppa and a chat.

The initiative was launched four years ago and also involves colleagues from GWR’s alliance partners Network Rail, and stakeholders including members of the GWR Advisory Board.

More than 100 staff have signed up for ‘Coffee Brewlette' and GWR Human Resources director Ruth Busby said it was a great way to meet different people and connect.

Ruth said: “In these uncertain times it’s more important than ever that we reach out to one another and lend a listening ear. It’s why we’re so pleased to be supporting Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign again this year and spreading this important message to our customers.

“We’re encouraging people to recognise the power of human connection and start a conversation which could save a life."

Although winter is thought to be one of the harder seasons with dark days and frosty nights, Samaritans volunteers hear similar concerns all year round from those who contact the charity. The main concerns include mental health and illness (46 per cent), family (34 per cent) and loneliness (28 per cent.

Samaritans volunteers were at Newton Abbot Station last Monday, where The Lions Barber Collective hosted a special pop-up shop, encouraging people to get a free haircut and discuss their mental health at the same time.