Community Rail Partnership supports seaside visit for refugees

On 24th August 2022 Northern Trains and the Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership (CRP) supported the Refugee Action Group based in Bradford by offering a trip for families along the scenic Bentham Line to the seaside at Morecambe.

For the seven participating families, who had come to Britain from Sudan, Kuwait, Palestine, Russia, Albania and Kurdistan (Iraq), it was a special day. The visit provided an opportunity for them to experience a train journey and enjoy a new part of the country. The visit offered respite from their day-to-day worries and made a big difference for the families, many of whom had not travelled by train or visited the seaside before.

The group travelled from Bradford Forster Square to Morecambe supported by Catherine Huddleston, the CRP’s Partnership Officer who met them on the train and guided them around Morecambe.

“I loved everything, especially the train ride.  There was such beautiful scenery along the way.  We feel more confident now to get on the train and visit nice places in our area. Thank you.” – Father of four

Upon arrival the group enjoyed a picnic on the seafront before visiting the former Morecambe Promenade railway station, now The Platform  entertainment venue, to see Mysterrasaur, a puppet show about dinosaurs.

Afterwards the families walked along the promenade to the Clock Tower and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours of activities on the beach; building sandcastles, looking for shells and a paddle in the sea.

“Today I liked building sandcastles, and playing in the mud and water.  I especially like squirting my sister.” – 7-year-old girl

On the return journey the CRP presented the families with copies of the Bentham Line’s ‘A Grand Day Out to the Seaside’ children’s story book, as a souvenir of their visit.

Christy Bischoff, ‘Experts by Experience Coordinator’ for the Bradford based arm of Refugee Action commented “We want to say a big thank you for the support and organisation provided by the CRP. We especially appreciated Catherine’s help in making our trip to Morecambe possible. It was such a special day out, and would not have been possible without her assistance and her suggesting Morecambe as a destination.”

Christy added “The highlight for the group was definitely spending time on the beach, and watching the children play so freely by building sandcastles and digging holes. The atmosphere was joyful and relaxed, as some families walked on the promenade and others walked down to the sea.”

“Today I dug a big hole and it was so fun.  It was so big I couldnt even get out of it. I loved the day. If I wasnt here I would have just spent the whole day sleeping because there is nothing to do.” – 11-year-old girl

“It has been great to be on the trip with the group. We are so grateful to the organisations and train company who made it possible.  It is such a nice gesture from Northern Trains, and we are grateful to the team.  We will come again as we now know it is straightforward and easy to get here.” – Father of two

It is a difficult time for those in the asylum system as they are not allowed to work and have just £5.84 to live on per day. Clearly, a day out at the seaside is outside the budget of these people. Many of the families have not travelled to other parts of Britain and lack the knowledge and confidence to be able to access a place like Morecambe.

The CRP has promoted and supported visits by train to Morecambe for some years now, for various groups, and was delighted to welcome this new party from the Refugee Action Group. We hope we can make such a visit an annual event, not only offering a fun day out but also giving encouragement to participants.

“Thank you, it was a great day out and if we did not come on the trip we would be home bored, depressed and my kids would have just slept all day.  We are so happy to come and see them playing.” – Mother of two

Images (courtesy Catherine Huddlestopn) show:

  • Smiles at the seaside 1
  • The group enjoying their lunch-time picnic
  • Smiles at the seaside 2