A CHARITY which works to reach vulnerable children on the railway before abusers can is looking to launch a project in Glasgow.

Railway Children, which is based in Cheshire, has revealed ambitions to bring its work to Scotland and ensure youngsters who find themselves pushed onto the network for the wrong reasons are cared for and listened to.

Glasgow Central is in the British Transport Police’s (BTP) top five stations in the UK for safeguarding incidents involving young people, where officers are called to speak to a child in a potentially vulnerable or dangerous situation.

Railway Children has a project at all the other top 10 stations. At these places, after a BTP officer has spoken to a young person and returned them to safety, the charity can step in to help the child further and try and prevent them from returning to the situation they were in.

But it currently has no presence at Glasgow Central, meaning many vulnerable kids may be going unseen and end up exploited by perpetrators.

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Gaynor Little, regional manager for the safeguarding on transport programme for Railway Children, said the charity will need to secure around £140,000 a year of funding to get the project off the ground.

But she said reaching children attracted to Glasgow Central was key in the charity’s efforts to create a national safety network.

She said: “The BTP have the top-10 stations where the most safeguarding forms are completed by officers for young people and we work at every other location apart from Glasgow.

“Our strategy and ambition is to offer our safeguarding and transport programme at each of those top-10 stations. As well as delivering the support for young people, it’s about engaging with the industry and the station so we’ve got more awareness of vulnerability and we can have a better response to young people.

“If you see an incident involving a young person, BTP are always your first port of call.

“But once they’ve made sure that person is safe, that referral will pass to us [in places where we have a project].

“We’ll contact that young person and offer some ongoing support because we know that for a lot of them they will get back involved in those issues that take them back to the station.

“So I’m currently trying to build an appetite for our work up in Scotland.”

There are all sorts of reasons young people can be attracted to the rail network and feel compelled to keep going back. They could be running away from home and then get pulled into the drugs or sex trade, and some will even go to stations or the tracks to end their lives.

The charity held a sleepout event at Central last week to raise awareness of this.

Participants Elizabeth Power and Jo Buckley, who work for train operator Avanti, said the work Railway Children does is vital to ensuring young people who could be in sinister situations are seen and heard.

Buckley said: “We’re all seeing more vulnerable children using our stations sadly and it’s great to be able to work with Railway Children to help us provide safeguarding training to all our frontline colleagues.”

Power added: “We do a lot of work with people on our trains to safeguard young people. We look for what tickets people are on, how expensive their tickets are, the surroundings they are in, and we use these skills all the time. I’ve had incidences recently where this has helped me.

“We want to highlight the work Railway Children does because it’s really important.”

To find out more about the charity or make a donation, visit www.railwaychildren.org.uk/