The new ‘Train into Work’ work experience programme has been developed in partnership with North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership (NSCRP) and the Institution of Railway Operators (IRO), with support from Alsager Job Club and the Moorland Learning Disabilities Team at Staffordshire County Council. The initiative aims to aid local regeneration on the North Staffordshire Line (Crewe-Stoke-Derby) by providing long-term unemployed and young people with 20 days work experience in customer service with East Midlands Trains.

Amelia and Mitchell are the first two people to go through the scheme, which will include working at Derby station, at local stations on the North Staffordshire Line and on East Midlands Trains services from Derby.

Amelia, from Alsager, has been out of work for 12 months and has been attending the Alsager Job Club, a voluntary organisation designed to help local people find work. The initial idea for the new ‘Train into Work’ programme came about through a meeting between NSCRP and the Alsager Job Club. Amelia will be working at Derby station to gain experience in customer-facing roles, including in the ticket office, at the ticket gates, on the platforms and on train.

Speaking at Derby station today, Amelia said: "I have been excitedly counting down to today and hope this opportunity will help me on my way to my destination of a full time job."

Mitchell is from Newcastle-under- Lyme and his passion for trains has already seen him sign up to become a volunteer at Kidsgrove station in his spare time. Mitchell, who currently attends Strathmore College in Stoke-on-Trent, will be joining the Station Service Team for the North Staffordshire Route and volunteers at other stations to keep the stations looking spick and span. He will also spend two weeks working at Derby station. Mitchell is supported by the Moorlands Learning Disabilities Team at Staffordshire County Council.

Mitchell also added: "I am looking forward to being part of East Midlands Trains and getting on the right track to a new job!"

As well as the hands-on work experience which will give Amelia and Mitchell great insight into how a customer-service focused business works, there will also be a programme of ongoing support including help with interviews, writing CVs and practical support in helping the two young people to find future employment.

The joint project between East Midlands Trains and the NSCRP is unique for community rail and if successful, will be rolled out to other routes on the East Midlands Trains network. The IRO will be endorsing the project and have supported it by developing the Train into Work trainee workbook to help the two placement students learn and develop during their work experience.

Faye Lambert, Project Manager for North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership said: "Train into Work is the first of its kind in community rail that will give exceptional and determined young people like Amelia and Mitchell focused learning through work experience to help them into employment. Thanks to the support of project partners East Midlands Trains and the Institution of Railway Operators, we hope they will be the first of many more to benefit from this project."

Janice Mills from Alsager Job Club said: “I would like to thank East Midlands Trains and the NSCRP for developing the innovative Train into Work project. At Alsager Job Club we recognise the importance that work experience plays in enabling unemployed people to move further along the journey towards employment and we are also aware that transport to and from Alsager can often be a barrier. We are delighted, therefore, that Train into Work addresses both these challenges directly by providing both work experience and the transport!”

Railfuture supports the work of Community Rail Partnerships around the country and hopes that this initiative will lead to more people using the train to travel to work and more customer-facing staff at those stations which are unmanned for part or all of the day.

Association of Community Rail Partnerships