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The Socially Enterprising Railway Toolkit – a guide for delivering new community businesses

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We've been working hard with partners to give community groups eager to develop social enterprise opportunities in and around Britain’s railways a helping hand with a new guidebook offering advice and examples to start them on their journey.

The socially enterprising railway toolkit has been designed to encourage and support community projects within a railway environment. Created by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) and the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) with support from our community engagement fund, the toolkit offers examples and case studies, ideas for future development, and advice on how to get ideas off the ground, working with the rail industry.

Social enterprises are an exceptional example of what can be delivered through community rail. The toolkit gives examples of how they create positive social change to enhance the passenger experience and influence wider areas such as regeneration, health and well-being, and social inclusion.

One example, which is supported by CrossCountry seed funding to North Staffordshire community rail partnership, is A Spotter Tea café at Kidsgrove station. This friendly little café in the station booking hall, run by local resident Kath, has properly filled a gap for customers travelling to Stoke-on-Trent, London and Manchester. With no catering provision on any of the stopping services, now it is easy to pick up a hot drink and snack for the journey. Running successfully since 2015, A Spotter Tea is open on weekdays until 1000.

Social enterprise at Kidsgrove station - A Spotter Tea cafe

Managing director of CrossCountry, Andy Cooper, said: “We are delighted to have worked with ACoRP and SFEDI to produce this valuable resource, promoting social enterprise practices to community rail partnerships. The difference community rail partnerships deliver in bringing Britain’s railways closer to the communities they serve is outstanding, and this toolkit will help them develop sustainable funding sources to continue this success.”

To access the toolkit, visit

Launching the new toolkit are (left to right) Jody Ball (CrossCountry), Anders Hanson (ACoRP), Jools Townsend (ACoRP), Peter Roberts (ACoRP), Kulvinder Bassi (Department for Transport), Alex Bray (CrossCountry) and Tom Raynor (Arriva UK)

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