South Western Railway joins Samaritans to remind public that small talk can be lifesaving

South Western Railway (SWR) has joined Samaritans to remind the public that we all have the potential to be lifesavers by simply striking up a conversation, as part of Samaritans’ latest Small Talk Saves Lives campaign in partnership with Network Rail and British Transport Police.

SWR colleagues at Southampton Central and Woking stations will be wearing hi-vis tabards bearing the Small Talk Saves Lives logo. This is down to the efforts of Jason, one of SWR’s drivers, who has worked with Samaritans and SWR after being inspired to help from his own experience.

After being bereaved by suicide and knowing rail staff who have also been impacted, Jason wanted to encourage passengers and staff to talk and know they’re not alone, so no one has to face what his family have been through.

Jason has had his own journey with his mental health and when he was feeling at his lowest, he reached out to Samaritans online web chat for help. SWR is happy to support Jason’s initiative having worked with Samaritans since 2010.

This new campaign comes after new research from Samaritans revealed that only 50% of UK adults said they would feel confident approaching and speaking to someone they don’t know if they were concerned about them in public.

The survey also suggested that we’re more comfortable behind a screen as a nation, as people would much prefer chatting to someone they don’t know on the phone (33%) or by email (18%), compared to face-to-face (9%).

Of those who said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching someone they don’t know, the top reasons holding them back were ‘worrying the person wouldn’t welcome their approach’ (44%) and ‘worrying they’d make things worse’ (29%), whilst a quarter said ‘not knowing what to say’ was also a concern.

So, Samaritans is relaunching its Small Talk Saves Lives campaign today, in partnership with Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry, to empower the public to trust their instincts and start a conversation if they think someone needs help on the railways or in other public settings.

As part of the launch, a new film across digital and social media reassures the public that a little small talk like ‘where can I get a coffee?’ can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts and help set them on a path to recovery.

In a campaign first, Samaritans volunteers across the country will also be heading to their local stations to host outreach events. Samaritans’ volunteers will be joined by SWR staff at a number of stations during February and March, speaking to passengers about the campaign, highlighting the power of talking and providing myth busting leaflets to help ease any concerns they may have.

Julie Bentley, Samaritans CEO said: “It’s normal to feel anxious about starting a conversation with someone you don’t know in person, but at Samaritans we know first-hand how life-changing that conversation could be. Suicidal thoughts are often temporary and there’s no evidence to suggest that you will make the situation worse – it’s about trusting your instincts, starting a conversation, and showing you care. We know it’s been a really challenging time for people’s mental health over the last few years, so we hope the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign builds that confidence and remind the public of the difference they can make. Let’s continue to look out for one another – it could save a life.”

Jane Lupson, SWR’s Safety and Security Director said: “South Western Railway is really proud to once again be working in partnership with Samaritans on this important campaign to highlight the power of small talk. We’ve worked with Samaritans since 2010 to encourage life-saving conversations with both our staff and the public. It’s so important we continue look out for one another, as we all have the power to start a conversation, which could save a life.”

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