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What is your railway doing and what can be done to attract younger people to become volunteers ?

Discussion in 'Heritage railways & Centres in the Uk' started by toplight, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. toplight

    toplight New Member

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    It is a well known cliche that Railway volunteers increasingly are mostly the older generation and there aren't sufficient younger people getting involved. What can be done about this and what is your railway doing ?

    I am also interested in those that were volunteers say in the 1970/80s etc. Was there the same worry then ?
     
  2. richards

    richards Part of the furniture

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    There are lots of younger volunteers on heritage railways. However, they are probably attracted by different motivations than those who remember steam on the mainline or in industry.

    The first step would be talk to any younger volunteers that your railway has and ask them why they do it, and how they got to hear about the volunteering in the first place. Word of mouth becomes a strong recruitment too, so what can you do get existing younger volunteers to bring their family/friends? How can you get in contact with people of a similar age and interests? Social media?
     
  3. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    This thread again, already!? Oh well...

    First of all, steam railways are operated by older people mostly because they've got the time, I'd say this is a larger factor than enthusiast tendancies. I know plenty of volunteers on the GWSR who I wouldn't really classify as enthusiasts, but enjoy their job. So it shouldn't be worrying in itself.

    Secondly it depends what day you go - weekends you're far more likely to see more younger volunteers as that's when we're available. Investing too much time in training younger volunteers might be wasteful anyway. One of my jobs is a TTI, I've been asked if I want to do guard training, but I've declined, not because I don't want to, but because I'll be off to university and it'll be a waste of everyone's time as then I won't be able to turn up enough for it to be worthwhile. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to keep up competence for TTIing at the moment, I may be reduced to popping into C+W during the holidays.

    Why do I do it? Cos I enjoy it! Always been fascinated by steam railways, and was born in the wrong century! I'm not doing it to go into any related industry, although plenty do, we've had a couple of young chaps get apprenticeships on the back of work they've done in the workshop.

    How to encourage more younger volunteers? Make sure they can actually *do* something worthwhile. Railways have differing ages as to when you can start volunteering proper, and the younger the better. I never joined a youth group because I never got the impression they did anything particularly interesting as far as I was concerned. Some railways are much better at this, Swanage young volunteers I think do some quote good stuff. I joined a department straight away when I was 14 with my Dad, which satisfies rules at the time, but wouldn't today. That's meant I've had nearly 5 years of proper volunteering before disappearing off - would I have bothered to join at all if it was only 2? Maybe C+W, but doubtful TTIing.

    Transport can be an issue, I live half an hour away but no public transport, I'm incredibly lucky that I get a lift in from our deputy manager who passes by on his way in, otherwise I wouldn't be in nearly as often, as parents are often busy.

    Existing volunteers might also be an issue. Everyone I know has been very welcoming to me and very kind, but I know that's not a universal experience on other railways speaking to others, who have encountered too many grumpy old men who don't want anything to do with younger volunteers.

    Well that's enough rambling for now, no doubt next month and next year we'll be having the same conversation, meanwhile folk will still be getting on with the business of running steam railways. :)

    Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
     
    W.Williams, TseTT, 1472 and 9 others like this.
  4. michaelh

    michaelh Well-Known Member

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    Alex

    Excellent post - and congratulations and good luck at Sheffield. Hope you'll be able to find the time to continue at Winchcombe - the stock does look better every time I'm there.
     
  5. Kinghambranch

    Kinghambranch Well-Known Member

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    I'll second that, but, when he gets to Uni he'll no doubt catch this bus if he's lucky, which may alter the ways in which he spends his spare time. I know it would for me (back in the 70s when I was at Uni that is!)

     
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  6. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    My thoughts precisely...

    How many of these infamous 'young people' play bowls, make their own jam, hold coffee mornings, enthusiastically 'do gardening', hire camper vans and tour the Highlands and so on? The truth is... very few. Yet all these activities not only survive but thrive. The reality is that people's interests and activities change as they get older.

    Just because you are not a keen railway volunteer as a 'young person', it does not mean you will never be one.

    Similarly, just because these 'older generation' volunteers are getting older, it doesn't automatically follow that they will all die off and not be replaced by more 'older generation' volunteers.
     
  7. DisusedBranch

    DisusedBranch Active Member

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    1. He'll discover beer, women and a million other fun ways to spend his time. Railways will soon be a long way from his mind.
    2. He'll devote time to hopefully building a successful career; if he's lucky, find a happy relationship with a long term partner; if he's really lucky, buy a house.
    3. He may have kids and do 'Dad things' for a couple of decades. He will laugh wistfully at the concept of 'spare time' and having any disposable income.
    4. His kids will leave home, he'll reach middle age and go "Blimey, I've got some spare time now".
    5. He'll work on a preserved railway. As an 'older' volunteer.
     
  8. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    You forget something somewhere around stages 2 & 3 - he may get involved in something in his local community/kids' school/sports club/church that occupies the "spare" time that could be spent on a preserved railway.

    I'm somewhere in stage 3 right now...
     
  9. Great Western

    Great Western New Member

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    I'm in step four now I'm about to start at Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway at the tender age of 34
     
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  10. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Part of the furniture

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    34 is not middle age.....:eek:

    Your kids are leaving home??? :eek:
     
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  11. 35B

    35B Part of the furniture

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    Lucky beggar;)
     
  12. Shrink Proof

    Shrink Proof Active Member

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    6. Kids will return home as they can't afford either this country's idiotic house prices or forking out to pay the mortgage of a buy-to-let spiv for them.
     
  13. Forestpines

    Forestpines Member

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    An idle thought I had whilst reading another thread on here earlier: there are probably more people actively involved in heritage/preserved/tourist railways now, than there have been at any time over the preceding 67 years.
     
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  14. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Active Member

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    Somewhere towards the start of #3. he will actively seek out a preservation railway that is hosting "a day out with Thomas"
     
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  15. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres

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    No what will happen is he will take his wife and family to the GWR,visit C&W get chatting over a tea about " the good old days"hIs wife will be surprised at what he did, because he's usless around the home :) And Poor Alex wil spend his next free week end looking round B&Q at paint because she who must be obayed has decided the house needs re decorating ;)
     
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  16. Copper-capped

    Copper-capped Active Member

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    Speaking of Alex...

    Has anyone seen him today, or has he hung himself in the utility closet because we have mapped out his life and he now has nothing to look forward to?!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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  17. martin1656

    martin1656 Resident of Nat Pres

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    OH come on, he's what 17, he will still be in bed with his mum shouting, Get up, dont make me come up there ;)
     
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  18. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    It's good to hear that the Heritage Railway Association are taking positive steps to legitimise young volunteers under the age of 16. Their president, Lord Faulkner, is sponsoring a private members bill to allow young people over the age of twelve to work on heritage railways. Let's hope it succeeds as it is very definitely needed. You can help by contacting your local MP and asking him/her to support the Bill in its progress through Parliament.
     
  19. paullad1984

    paullad1984 Member

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    Simple. Appreciate them. Don't take them for granted. Make them feel included.
     
  20. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    There is an element of that! However, I have also just had my last day in C+W before I go to Sheffield on Saturday, many doughnuts and cookies were consumed - oh, and I did a little bit of painting as well... :)

    Sadly my suggestion of getting my rail ticket home for the weekend put on department expenses has not been accepted!

    Sent from my Moto G (4) using Tapatalk
     

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