Painting a brighter future for homeless people at London Paddington: Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines, Secretary of State Grant Shapps and British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle

Thursday 8 Oct 2020

Painting a brighter future for homeless people at London Paddington

Region & Route:
Wales & Western
| Wales & Western: Western

Network Rail commits to tackling homelessness by signing new Rough Sleeping on Rail Charter

Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines, Secretary of State Grant Shapps and British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Doyle met yesterday (Wednesday 7 October) at London Paddington station, to sign the first pan-industry homelessness charter as part of a wide-reaching programme of efforts to support a route out of homelessness for every rough sleeper.

This charter forms an important part of Network Rail’s Routes out of Homelessness initiative. Network Rail is working with five charity partners - Railway Children, End Youth Homelessness, Shelter, Crisis and The Big Issue Foundation – on a wide-reaching programme featuring a number of events to raise awareness for the charities, as well as fundraising and a new outreach programme to support the Government’s ambitions to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.

To mark the launch of the campaign, each of Network Rail’s regions has partnered with one of the charities to produce a piece of artwork for World Homeless Day (Saturday 10 October). The Wales and Western region has partnered with The Big Issue.

Over the next two days, artist and The Big Issue vendor John Cahill is live painting a mural at London Paddington station. The design for John’s artwork is based around his time sleeping in a park under a tree and looking up at the stars, with the stars providing hope for John. Once completed, the artwork will be handed over to Network Rail to then be installed in Reading station’s new Assisted Travel Lounge when it opens in 2021.

There will also be an accompanying exhibition displaying artwork available to purchase from The Big Issue online shop with each piece of artwork including a biography of the artist. The exhibition will be touring stations on the Western route starting at Paddington (8-22 Oct) before moving to Reading (22 Oct-5 Nov) and finishing at Bristol Temple Meads (5-19 Nov).

Through this partnership, Network Rail will help raise awareness, drive sales of artwork sold through the online shop and fundraise on behalf of, and alongside The Big Issue organisation and its vendors. Since the partnership first began in April 2019 over £1,700 has been raised.

Network Rail is also turning to the latest technology to further support its efforts in tackling homelessness. A number of stations on the Western route are also in the process of installing contactless TAP readers that enables people to make a contactless donation via their credit or debit card through a network of contactless donation points in windows and on hand-held devices. Today a TAP reader is being installed at Bristol Temple Meads with more readers planned to be installed at Reading and Paddington.

Wales and Western regional Director, Mark Langman, said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with The Big Issue and playing our part in safeguarding our communities and helping put an end to rough sleeping for good.

“Alongside helping raise funds to tackle this important issue, we will be empowering our workforce to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness when we encounter them by connecting them to support services as well as engaging with our passengers about ways in which they too can help reduce homelessness.

“We continue to face the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid and whilst we are currently supporting reduced passenger numbers, we are proud to be providing a key service and are fully prepared to welcome our passengers back when restrictions are lifted. Homelessness is just one of the challenges the country will continue to face in the future, and we are committed to doing all that we can to help tackle rough sleeping on the British Railways.”

Tracy Griffin, CEO of The Big Issue Foundation, commented:

“The Big Issue Foundation is delighted to be one of the supporting charity partners of Network Rail's 'Routes out of Homelessness'.

“We look forward to officially launching the partnership at Paddington station, alongside Big Issue vendor and artist, John Cahill, who has been creating live art at the station. The station is also hosting an art exhibition featuring art by artists that have been previously homeless - all available to buy on the Big Issue Shop.

“Everyone deserves a home. We are looking forward to working with Network Rail over the next four years to provide opportunities to improve the lives of many over the coming years.”

Artist and The Big Issue vendor, John Cahill, added:

“I left Middlesex University with a BA honours degree in illustration in 2006. Just as I was making headway with my career, I suffered a series of setbacks bringing my progression to an abrupt halt, and so I have been a Big Issue vendor ever since. I was also diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum a few years ago. I continue to paint in my spare time and want to keep moving forward to my goal of becoming a professional artist.”

Notes to Editors

For more information, images and video, or to arrange an interview, please contact Rob Breckon by emailing or by calling 07395 390759.

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Callum Jones

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