Edinburgh Waverley welcomes a Breathing Space on World Mental Health Day: Waverley Breathing Space bench - Scott Dryden, left, Tony McLaren, centre, and Juliet Donnachie.

Thursday 10 Oct 2019

Edinburgh Waverley welcomes a Breathing Space on World Mental Health Day

Region & Route:

Edinburgh Waverley station has unveiled a Breathing Space ‘time to talk’ bench today (October 10) to mark World Mental Health Day. 

And to illustrate how important talking can be, Network Rail Scotland has released a short video featuring a discussion between Tony McLaren, National Co-ordinator for Breathing Space, and Scott Dryden, Network Rail’s Seasons Delivery Specialist, whose father sadly took his own life this year.

Scott said: “Sometimes it can be difficult to start a conversation, to ask questions and check if someone is really OK.  Often we need to be a bit persistent to get beyond the ‘I’m fine’ response.  The Breathing Space bench at Waverley will give anyone working at or passing through the station a place where they know it’s OK to start a conversation. 

“I know it’s not always easy but I would urge everyone to be brave and start a conversation which could make a big difference to someone.  And be brave too if you are finding it hard to cope, talking to someone can really help and reminds you that there are people who want to help.”

The bench is being installed as a collaboration between Network Rail Scotland, Breathing Space and Edinburgh Thrive, an initiative which aims to support those living with mental illness in Scotland’s capital.

Tony McLaren said: “Chatting to Scott on a Breathing Space bench was a powerful reminder of the benefits of talking and how kindness and everyday positive relationships can effect change and support the well-being of individuals and communities.

“Having a bench in Waverley in Edinburgh city centre means it will be available to thousands of people.  Railway stations are busy places but if you are struggling with your mental health they can also be incredibly lonely too. 

“So we’re delighted to be unveiling this new Breathing Space bench in partnership with Network Rail as integral to the Thrive initiative creating a welcoming space to sit, reflect and have everyday conversations.  If you’re feeling low, stressed or anxious talking things through and being listened to can help.”

The Breathing Space bench at Waverley is situated in an easily accessible spot close to platform 2. 

Juliet Donnachie, Station Manager at Waverley, said: “Railway stations can often be a place that people gravitate to when they might be feeling lost, unsafe, or lonely.  We may have thousands of commuters and leisure travellers passing through who may be suffering stress at work or in other aspects of their life.  My team and I are always looking out for people who may need support, and we are delighted to be the first station team and station in Scotland to host a Breathing Space bench in support of the fabulous work Breathing Space do.”

Notes to Editors

Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone service for anyone in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety, funded by the Scottish Government and NHS 24.  It aims to raise awareness of its services with a network of community connectors and benches across the country.  Advisors at Breathing Space are available every evening and 24 hrs at weekends on 0800 838587.

Network Rail Scotland undertakes a number of initiatives to support people struggling with their mental health including:

  • A partnership with the Scottish Football Association and affiliated clubs to deliver mental health programmes
  • Edinburgh Cheer initiative delivered in partnership with Edinburgh Council, Tesco, Hibernian FC, Heart of Midlothian FC, NHS Lothian, Cyrenians and Simon Community – a seasonal campaign to make Edinburgh the happiest city during the festive period though focusing on health & wellbeing and homelessness
  • Working on programmes to reduce suicide risk with strategic partners including Breathing Space, Samaritans, Choose life, SAMH, RAMH (Renfrewshire Assoc for mental health), Health in Mind, Mikeysline, NHS
  • Supporting a Rail Pastor initiative – introduced to provide additional support on-train or at unstaffed stations with objective being to identify vulnerable people and offer support and/ or take them to a place of safety.

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Nick King
Media relations manager (Scotland)
0141 555 4108 / 07515 617073

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