Network Rail joins Samaritans to remind public that small talk saves lives: Small Talk Saves Lives campaign poster

Tuesday 21 Feb 2023

Network Rail joins Samaritans to remind public that small talk saves lives

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western
  • Samaritans survey shows only half of the nation feel confident approaching someone they are concerned about in public.   
  • So, to boost public confidence, the rail industry has teamed up with Samaritans volunteers for the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign, hosting station outreach events to speak to passengers and empower them to act if they see someone who needs help by starting a conversation 
  • New campaign film reassures the public that a little small talk like ‘where can I get a coffee?’ can set someone on a path to recovery   

Network Rail has joined Samaritans to remind the public that we all have the potential to be lifesavers by simply striking up a conversation, as part of Samaritans’ latest Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. 

The new campaign comes after new research from Samaritans revealed that only 50% of UK adults said they would feel confident approaching and speaking to someone they don’t know if they were concerned about them in public. The survey also suggested that we’re more comfortable behind a screen as a nation, as people would much prefer chatting to someone they don’t know on the phone (33%) or by email (18%), compared to face-to-face (9%).  

Of those who said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching someone they don’t know, the top reasons holding them back were ‘worrying the person wouldn’t welcome their approach’ (44%) and ‘worrying they’d make things worse’ (29%), whilst a quarter said ‘not knowing what to say’ was also a concern.    

So, Samaritans is relaunching its Small Talk Saves Lives campaign today, in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry, to empower the public to trust their instincts and start a conversation if they think someone needs help on the railways or in other public settings. As part of the launch, a new film across digital and social media reassures the public that a little small talk like ‘where can I get a coffee?’ can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help set them on a path to recovery. 

In a campaign first, Samaritans volunteers across the country will also be heading to their local stations to host outreach events. Working in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry to promote Small Talk Saves Lives, the volunteers will be highlighting the power of talking and providing myth-busting leaflets.  

Samaritans’ volunteers will be joined by rail staff at: 

Swindon station – 21 February 06:30am - 14:00 

Ealing Broadway station – 22 February 09:00am -13:00 

Taunton station - 27 Feb 08:30am – 16:30 

Reading station – 10 March, times TBC 

Julie Bentley, Samaritans CEO Samaritans said: “It’s normal to feel anxious about starting a conversation with someone you don’t know in person, but at Samaritans we know first-hand how life-changing that conversation could be. Suicidal thoughts are often temporary and there’s no evidence to suggest that you will make the situation worse – it’s about trusting your instincts, starting a conversation, and showing you care. We know it’s been a really challenging time for people’s mental health over the last few years, so we hope the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign builds that confidence and remind the public of the difference they can make. Let’s continue to look out for one another – it could save a life.” 

Ruth Busby, people and transformation director (regional) for Great Western Railway and Network Rail Wales and Western, said: “We’re really proud to be working in partnership with Samaritans again on this important campaign to help raise awareness of the power of small talk. We’ve worked with Samaritans since 2010 to encourage life-saving conversations with both our staff and the public. It’s so important we continue look out for one another, as we all have the simple skills which could save a life.” 

Launched in 2017, Small Talk Saves Lives was developed after research showed the positive part the public could play in suicide prevention. The campaign is backed by suicide prevention expert Dr Lisa Marzano from Middlesex University.  

She said: “In our latest research we spoke to those who had made and received interventions themselves and they really echoed the main Small Talk Saves Lives message. We heard how powerful it can be to use small talk or to ask simple questions, in a calm manner. We also found reassuring results around teamwork and the fact that you don’t have to manage this alone – you could speak to a member of staff or call 999 in an emergency too.” 

For more information and tips, visit or join the conversation on social media using #SmallTalkSavesLives  

Notes to Editors

A press pack is available at

About the research: 

The research was conducted by Censuswide with 2,004 Nationally Representative UK General Consumers (16+) between 03.01.2023 - 05.01.2023. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council. 

Samaritans and Small Talk Saves Lives: 

  • A brand-new campaign film launches today (21 February) across digital and social media, showing the difference people could make if they listen to their instincts and overcome initial worries that may come to mind if they see someone who needs help. 
  • Due to the proven link between certain types of media reporting of suicide and increases in suicide rates, please be mindful of Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and Rail Suicide
  • In partnership with Network Rail, Samaritans has trained over 27,000 rail staff and British Transport Police in suicide prevention, enabling them to identify and support vulnerable people to safety. This is part of the charity’s long-standing partnership with the rail industry to reduce suicides and support those affected by them. 
  • Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can visit  


Contact information

Passengers / community members
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Emily Maiden
Network Rail

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