Network Rail’s North and East route backs Samaritans campaign to remind public small talk is no small thing: Small Talk Saves Lives at Kings Cross station

Thursday 22 Feb 2024

Network Rail’s North and East route backs Samaritans campaign to remind public small talk is no small thing

Region & Route:
Eastern: North & East
| Eastern

Volunteers will be at stations across Network Rail's North & East route for Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign to remind the public that small talk can be lifesaving as half the nation admit to swerving someone they don’t know to avoid small talk.

Network Rail has partnered with Samaritans, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry to inform the public that a simple conversation can be vital as part of the charity’s Small Talk Saves Lives campaign.

Today (22 February 2024) Samaritans and Network Rail teams are at London King’s Cross station hosting the ‘Small Talk Salon’. The one-day pop-up event encourages passengers to drop in for a quick treatment and a chat.

Two in five people (41%) living near Network Rail's North & East route use small talk when at the hairdressers. Therefore, by bringing hairdressers, barbers, and nail technicians to the station, the charity is giving people the opportunity to practise their small talk with the masters of small talk themselves.

It is hoped that people will leave feeling better than before and more confident about their conversation starting skills.

Throughout the campaign, Samaritans volunteers will also be hosting engagement events at local stations across the network speaking to people about the importance of small talk, including:

  • Dewsbury station on 6 March from 2pm to 6pm
  • Leeds City station on 8 March from 10am to 4pm
  • Hull station on 12 March time TBC
  • Harrogate station TBC

New findings released by Samaritans today reveal just under half of British adults living near Network Rail's North & East route avoid engaging with someone they don’t know to avoid small talk whilst 24% are worried they would say the wrong thing when engaging with someone.

But the message is that small talk is no small thing and we are all better at it than we think. Although 95% of people say they don’t have a go-to question to start small talk, 81% have used small talk in their personal lives over the past month, and over half (56%) often or always use small talk in their professional lives too. 

Small Talk Saves Lives empowers the public to trust their instincts and start a conversation if they think someone needs help in railway stations and other public settings. The campaign reassures the public that a little small talk such as ‘do you know where I can grab a cuppa?’ can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and could help set them on the journey to recovery. People might worry that they will say the wrong thing, but saying something is better than saying nothing.

With two in five people (42%) confessing to not knowing what to say to initiate conversation through small talk, Samaritans is calling on people across the UK to give it a go, as a simple comment about the weather could be all it takes to save someone's life. 

Julie Swift, Station Interface Manager at Leeds City station said: “The Small Talk Saves Lives campaign has shown us how we each have the skills to genuinely help someone in distress. I am ever so proud of our relationship with Samaritans and British Transport Police and hope this next stage of the campaign continues to help educate and inform people that small talk can be lifesaving. We are looking forward to hosting volunteers at Leeds station in the coming weeks.” 

Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said, "Every day, there are people across Great Britain who are in distress and need support. Our Small Talk Saves Lives campaign empowers people to trust their instincts and have the confidence to act in a way that could save a life. To mark the start of the four-week campaign, we are launching our Small Talk Salon at London’s King’s Cross railway station today, seeing our remarkable volunteers raise awareness of the campaign, whilst encouraging commuters to pluck up the courage to use small talk, to support those in need of help."

British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable, Paul Furnell said: “We remain committed to protecting vulnerable people across the network. Our experience tells us that engaging in conversation at the right time can make all the difference. This campaign continues to encourage us all to try a little small talk, but if you don’t feel comfortable or safe to intervene, tell a member of rail staff or a police officer. You can text British Transport Police on 61016 or call 999.”

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

Notes to Editors

About the research:

The research was conducted by YouGov from 25-26 January 2024 with a total sample size of 2,000 GB adults (18+).

Samaritans and Small Talk Saves Lives:

  • Over the next few weeks Samaritans volunteers will also be hosting engagement events at local stations across the network and in the communities, speaking to people about the importance of small talk
  • Launched in 2017, Small Talk Saves Lives was developed after research from Middlesex University showed the positive part the public could play in suicide prevention. The campaign is supported by suicide prevention expert Dr Lisa Marzano from Middlesex University
  • 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 28,000 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
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

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Chantele Hodson
Media Relations Executive

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