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West Somerset Railway Operations

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by gwr4090, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. toplight

    toplight Member

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    First of all why this concentration on people being having to be retired ? I work as a volunteer typically every Sunday and I still work in a normal job Monday to Friday mid week. Occasionally I even go down on a wednesday night after work too. It has made it more difficult though since I have had a family and especially since having kids. Still get some moaning from the wife about it so have to try and help with the kids a bit first.

    The problem with doing things as volunteers is that is takes forever to do stuff because you are only doing 1 day a week, so that means at least 5 to 6 weeks for just 5 days work. I find it really frustrating with my own project that the progress is never as fast as you like because of this time limit.
    This is why you read about groups restoring such and such a loco for 25 years. If they could do it full time they could probably get it done in 5 years or less, so paying people can mean that stuff gets into a working condition and can be used much more quickly.

    From my experience of volunteers who are retired they still also typically only do 1 day per week. If there was some money attached they might do say 2 or 3 ? . From what I saw at the Isle of Wight, most are people effectively retired who have had a previous career and are now lucky enough to be paid to work part time doing their hobby. When they did the coach for the channel 4 program, the guy you saw doing it was taken on full time for the 6 month duration of the project and has now gone back to part time paid/part time volunteer again.
     
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  2. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    I know plenty who fit in this category, but just as many retired folk who do two days. Most volunteer management requires significant time and it's rare for those sort of people to not be retired. As I've said, our C+W HoD is in the workshops 3 days a week, and tapping away on the laptop for another 3 days, and that's despite having the support of his management team of half a dozen or so including a deputy, a CME, accountant, H+S, maintenance etc. I know if I could I'd be looking to invest a good deal more time in supporting the GWSR, but I haven't the time.
     
  3. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    I believe one of the reasons why volunteers are not quite as forthcoming now is due to legislation. This is not simply a case for heritage railways, it seems to be affecting many other walks of life. I am reliably told that people are reluctant to become school governors, others reluctant to take on unpaid church administrations, youth organizations and some clubs have difficulties in attracting helpers. I am sure there are other areas as well that are affected.
    Much, as far as I can see, is a result of Health & Safety regulations, safe guarding legislation regarding young, old and vulnerable people which does deter some from becoming volunteers. Whilst the H&S and safeguarding requirements are of necessity a good thing, the problem that can arise is over zealous interpretations of the legislation. This zeal isn't new, some of it started back in the mid 1970's, but, like Topsy, it has grown.
     
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  4. Monkey Magic

    Monkey Magic Member

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    I tend to think it is the perception of the legislation and the demands rather than the actual demands. I did a course on safeguarding which took about an hour, this however, is in the context of a large organisation that has people whose job is to develop such training. For smaller organisations it is going to be a problem to set these things up which is why you need good managers.

    In the aftermath of scandals like Jimmy Savile or Barry Bennell, it might be a bit onerous but it is also necessary.

    I’d add that perhaps it is also about attitudes towards training, that it is viewed as a chore rather than something beneficial. I try to take the view that it will help me to do my job better, I found the safeguarding course I did pretty interesting and it gave me a lot to think about, but perhaps if I was more antagonistic about things I would have approached it with ‘tick it off, get it done’ attitude and got less out of it all around.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  5. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I’m sure those are factors but, as a 40-something church volunteer and school governor with a full time job and kids, i see two key challenges. One is time, the other is the culture of volunteering - bluntly, it’s no longer the norm.


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  6. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    As a retiree there is also the consideration that individuals wish to give both time and exchange knowledge with the younger generation but don't want the mandatory (dictatorial ?) element that surrounds much of the legislation that railways are now encumbered with. In my case I simply wish to turn up, make my contribution then return home and any "interference" (e.g. adherence to legislative requirements) adds a factor of responsibility that I no longer wish to accept.
     
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  7. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    I hesitate to comment on individuals or specifics, but I question the degree to which this “interference” is real rather than imagined. Having had to consider safeguarding and GDPR with my church hat on, my experience is that the vast majority of such requirements are actually codification of a mixture of common sense and best practice.

    The ability to just do ones bit and then return home, however, is vital - volunteering should be a pleasure, and turning it into a chore is a surefire way to lose volunteers.


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  8. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Even if those requirements were there to protect your physical, financial or reputational safety? For example, would you be prepared to work on a project or site where there was no public liability insurance in place? I wouldn't.

    Maybe things were different fifty years ago, but my experience is that the burden on individuals by "legislative requirements" is to a large degree something of a chimera: it exists in some people's imaginations but isn't actually a practical issue on the ground. For example, lots of H&S legislation is really just codifying what ought to be sensible safe working practices in any case.

    Tom
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
  9. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    Regarding safeguarding, sometimes simple old fashioned 'gut instinct' is all that's needed. I know of one individual in a model railway group who was regarded as a bit seedy, for want of a better word. Anyway, we had a 12 year old girl, daughter of a member, who was involved in the club - we just made sure that this character was never allowed anywhere near her unobserved. A couple of years ago, he was caught by a group like 'Guardians of the North', detained until the police arrived, and is now doing time. What's of concern, though, is that this person had 'previous' for a similar offence, as we subsequently discovered. Would safeguarding training for the Club's Officers have helped? Possibly. However, this is one reason why people are wary of taking responsibility whilst in a voluntary position - "you had had training, so why didn't you spot something wrong with xxx?".
     
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  10. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    Gut instinct can be backed up by awareness of the tools available. For example, in a role of responsibility within a voluntary organisation, a DBS clearance would be a legitimate requirement, and help flush out such individuals.


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  11. threelinkdave

    threelinkdave Well-Known Member

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    Fred - I understand where you are comming from but some of us have to accept H&S. I enjoy being a guard. and am ready to accept the responsibilities which go with the job. I have to obey the rule book and the general regulations. Plus all the operating notices and procedures contained in the corporate documents, local instructions and current notices. This applies to all safety critical staff without whome the railway cannot operate. Being responsible for an 8 coach train with 300 to 400 passengers is something not taken lightly. Get the job seriously wrong and its a day out with the magistrate as that guard in Liverpool found out. The SVR gets its fair share of drunks too.

    Now there are many roles where you can turn up and do your bit but like it or not H&S legislation will apply and it affects not only yourself. There was a local case of lathe operator who continued to polish items in a spinning lathe with a strip of emery cloth against company rules. Inevitably he injured himself. The company was prosecuted by H&S for not stopping him using this method. Heritage railways have enough problenms financing thenselves without finding the cash for fines in court
     
  12. MarkinDurham

    MarkinDurham Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. My point, though, is that that responsibility can be off-putting to some. Not everyone wants the buck to stop at them, as it were.
     
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  13. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B New Member

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    I started work in 1975 and volunteering in the 1980s.

    Whilst there was H&S legalisation when I started work it was basically common sense. Over the years it became more prescriptive and rigid and we now have the present regime. The majority of tasks are now so prescriptive that only one method of working is mandated in spite of their being other safe ones. Whilst young people are used to working in such an environment most retired people I know find this very tedious to the point they're not prepared to work again, paid or otherwise.

    The best example I can think of at the moment is that side cutters do not usually work on some types of insulation or decayed insulation on cables so it is common practice to use either a knife or a cable stripper and in a restricted area the latter can be imposable. This can be achieved safely by a relatively benign bluntish knife. Rather than ban the use of knives the organisation has mandated the use of side cutters which can make it impossible to do the job effectively.

    A less obvious example is that our ambidextrous laptops at work were all replaced by right handed ones which caused some disquiet especially as we had a large human factors section with expertise in this area.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2018
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  14. Anne C-B

    Anne C-B New Member

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    There is also the problem that organisations attempt to structure their H&S in a manner to try to absolve their board from any legal responsibility. My experience of this was that the HSE quite rightly came after us with renewed rigour when they realised this and I'm sure that the HMRI would take the same route. It can be a dirty business within organisations.
     
  15. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Despite the main point of my post I can reassure posters that I fully understand and accept the value of rules and regulations which apply to heritage lines but re-iterate that I no longer wish to volunteer for roles where such are required. I emphasise that I state this as a retiree who had enough of rules and regulations during a working life and see my retirement as a time to enjoy life at my own pace following my own rules within the community. If there are rules to be applied then I want the choice to select activities I will undertake with regard to the rules that will be applied - and at the moment I do not wish to be subject to rules and regulations hence my non-volunteering although I still support heritage activities by my photography and financial donations.
     
  16. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    The problem is, all DBS checks prove is that the individual hasn't previously been caught, not that they're innocent.
     
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  17. JayDee

    JayDee Member

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    Best way to do it though. Otherwise what do you suggest? A ducking stool? At least the dbs check gives people some protection.
     
  18. 5944

    5944 Part of the furniture

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    That's the thing, it's the only way to do it. It's just not the catch-all that people believe it is.
     
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  19. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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    When the change from CRB to DBS occurred I got a new certificate. I was informed by someone in the Diocese,, responsible for safeguarding, that I must have one as I visit elderly people. I politely informed her that I knew that and in fact most of the old vulnerable people I visited were, in fact, younger than me. I was also old and vulnerable in that case! ;)
     
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  20. Greenway

    Greenway Part of the furniture

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