Fearne Cotton and Paul Merson join Rail Wellbeing Live 2021 line-up: Rail staff meditating

Wednesday 13 Oct 2021

Fearne Cotton and Paul Merson join Rail Wellbeing Live 2021 line-up

Region & Route:
  • The rail industry’s largest free health and wellbeing event, Rail Wellbeing Live, returns online next month (17 to 18 November)
  • 100+ inspiring speakers and 75 pick ‘n’ mix free sessions to choose from
  • 10pm evening sessions have been added to the 2021 agenda.

Television presenter Fearne Cotton and former footballer and pundit Paul Merson are the latest speakers to be announced for Rail Wellbeing Live which will run virtually over two days (17 to 18 November). Fearne will talk about how to find joy in every day and Paul will share his experience of battling addiction during his footballing career.

Other speakers in the line-up include: Rebecca Adlington, double gold Olympic medallist; Bryony Gordon, best-selling author of the book Mad Girl; Jason Fox from Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins; and Dr Rupy Aujla, the GP behind The Doctor’s Kitchen project.

Rail Wellbeing Live is open to Britain’s 240,000-strong rail workforce for free, where suicides are among the highest in the UK workforce at 1.6 times the national average. Thousands have already signed up for this year’s event, but it is not too late to register. To secure your place, visit www.railwellbeinglive.co.uk. By registering, you will also be able to watch all 75 sessions again 24/7 for up to two weeks after the event.

Ill-health in the rail industry is estimated to cost £790m per year with a 3.9% absence rate due to health issues – mental and physical - more than double the private sector average.  And this year, the ONS have said that one in five adults in Britain experienced some form of depression in early 2021, more than double the level recorded before the pandemic.

John Halsall, chair of the Rail Wellbeing Alliance and managing director for Network Rail’s Southern region, said: “We’re delighted that thousands have already registered, but with 240,000 across the industry, there are so many more people who could benefit from this free event, so I’d encourage everyone across the industry to sign up, if they haven’t already.”

Case study

Rachel Avenell (30) has worked at the Rail Delivery Group in their communications team for two and a half years. She has suffered from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of her life and is looking forward to attending this year’s Rail Wellbeing Live.

Rachel said: “I have always been very open about my struggles with mental health. I’ve had anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of my life, along with periods of other mental illness. I use my experiences not only to educate others that OCD isn’t just about being clean or turning a light switch on and off, but to hopefully inspire others to feel safe to discuss their own struggles. I fully support Rail Wellbeing Live and think it is even more needed now, as we come out of lockdown and are all adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of working life.

“One in four of us will have a diagnosed mental illness at some point in our lives and I believe that we all go through periods of mental unwellness, however brief they may be. The most effective coping strategy I have is talking about what I’ve been through and what I go through on a daily basis.

“Rail Wellbeing Live is great for introverted people who may not be ready to engage in a conversation about mental health but are either interested or have experienced their own poor mental health and just want to understand a bit more. It’s an opportunity for them to do so, without being in a big crowd of people. There’s such a varied agenda with a mixture of practical sessions, informative sessions and interactive sessions.  There really is something for everybody.”

Rail Wellbeing Live is organised by the Rail Wellbeing Alliance, a cross-industry group, made up of train operating companies, suppliers and industry bodies.  The free online two-day event offers everyone in the rail industry the opportunity to come together and connect with industry and high-profile speakers to get inspiration, tips and guidance on how to tackle a wide range of health and wellbeing issues.

All the content over the two days will be livestreamed and available 24/7 for two weeks after the event, but you need to register to be able to access it. Also new for 2021, is the introduction of sessions at 10pm which will cover nutrition for shift work and how to reduce fatigue.

Notes to Editors

  • Interviews with John Halsall, chair of the Rail Wellbeing Alliance and managing director for Network Rail’s Southern region or Rachel Avenell are available on request.
  • Anyone who works in the rail industry can register for Rail Wellbeing Live for free. Go to https://bit.ly/RWL2021 
    or scan the QR code attached to this release.
  • Follow @RailWellBeing on Twitter for event updates

Contact information

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Emily Reed
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