The VolkerRailStory joint venture, contracted to complete the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade project, has delivered a total of 2,280 volunteering hours, to support local charities and schools in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, since it started work on the project in February 2021.
The initiative forms part of the joint ventures commitment to invest in the local community while it completes upgrade work along the Hope Valley line.
Charities and local community groups that the joint venture has worked with include the Peak District National Park, the National Trust, S6 Foodbank, St Luke’s Hospice, Bluebell Woods Children’s Hospice, Green City Action, and the Sheffield Vulcan Rotary Group, along with several Friends of the Station groups along the Hope Valley line.
Volunteering ranged from footpath maintenance tasks with the Peak District National Park, clough woodland tree maintenance with the National Trust, bag packing with the foodbank and sorting through donations at St Luke’s Hospice’s charity shop.
Kait Jones, a park ranger from the National Trust, said: “It has been great to work with the VolkerRailStory volunteers and, although early days, they have already had a significant and beneficial impact on the High Peak moors.
“We are only a small team of rangers that look after a vast land holding and without groups of volunteers like this it would be impossible for us to look after and improve the land that we are responsible for. We look forward to continuing and developing the partnership with VolkerRailStory over the coming months and years.”
The joint venture has also engaged with 3,220 students across 25 local primary and secondary schools, to deliver career talks, mock interviews, CV writing workshops and bridge building classroom activities.
To provide students with first-hand experience of the rail industry, two rail industry insight weeks were held for 19 local secondary school students. This involved a series of business masterclasses, including design and engineering challenges and site visits to the project’s main worksites. More recently, VolkerRailStory partnered with Primary Engineer to deliver a number of classroom based rail projects with 10 primary schools in the local area. This saw Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 primary school classes design and construct either a shoe box train or an electrically powered train.
Jim Goldsby, project director, for the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade, said: “It’s really important to us that we not only deliver the railway upgrade work for our client, Network Rail, but to also ensure that we are being a good neighbour while we do so.
“This means making sure that we carry out volunteering and school engagement initiatives in the community, to invest in the local area and inspire the next generation to consider a career in engineering.”
As recognition for its efforts, VolkerRailStory won the Sustainability and Environmental Excellence Award at the 2023 Rail Business Awards, for its work to deliver community benefits in the local area and leave a positive impact on the environment. The joint venture has also recently been shortlisted for two community awards at the 2023 British Construction Industry Awards, for which the award ceremony will take place in October this year.
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