Thursday 7 Feb 2019
Big-hearted Network Rail signaller on a mission to help Britain’s homeless
- London North Western
Network Rail signaller Chris Conway is known in his hometown of Blackpool as the 'big man with the big heart' for his efforts helping the homeless - but now he's aiming to go national.
Chris is a relief signaller for Network Rail at Bamber Bridge, near Preston, with a passion for helping people living on the streets.
When he’s not signalling trains he can be found leading a team of volunteers who scour the streets of Blackpool looking for rough sleepers.
He started his Thursday night ‘community watch’ street walks last year. Already he has up to 40 volunteers in tow, all decked out in Chris’ 'United Blackpool' hoodies.
The twenty-five-year-old said: "From a young age, about five or six, I remember going into Blackpool and being upset when I saw homeless people. Helping the homeless is always something I’ve been passionate about."
Since starting his street walks, Chris has helped get 12 homeless people off the streets and into rented accommodation.
He works with Blackpool charity Amazing Graze, running the local soup kitchen on Friday nights, but Chris’ ambitions go beyond the Fylde peninsula.
Chris said: “I want to start a national ‘random acts of kindness’ campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to break the stigma around homelessness. It’s easy to just dismiss or ignore homeless people, seeing them as druggies who’ve ended up on the streets because of addiction.
“But ask yourself this: ‘What came first: the homelessness or the drug abuse? In almost all cases addiction results from homelessness, not vice versa. Feeling cold, scared, hungry, uncomfortable, unnoticed and unloved day after day is enough to make anyone consider drugs.
“I want to change the way homeless people are viewed. They are just like you or me but, for whatever reason, they’ve ended up on the streets. The positive impact of acknowledging homeless people, by giving them a smile or asking how they are, cannot be underestimated.”
If you want more information on how you can get involved with Chris’ support work, you can email him directly - Christopher.Conway2@networkrail.co.uk, or you can visit the United Blackpool Facebook Page or follow United Blackpool on Instagram.
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.