Virgin Trains partners with Mental Health Foundation to highlight the importance of mental health

31 March 2016

Connecting for Mental Health – Mental Health Foundation and Virgin Trains announce charity partnership

Mental Health Foundation and Virgin Trains West Coast join forces to highlight the importance of mental health.

Today sees the launch of an inspiring new charity partnership between the Mental Health Foundation and Virgin Trains West Coast. The partnership will see the train operator focus its responsible business agenda, community activities and charitable fundraising on mental health and wellbeing across its network – reaching millions of customers across the network each year.

Mental health is something we all have. We all have ups and downs and we can all improve our ability to cope with what life throws at us. At least one in four adults will experience a mental health problem in any year. This has a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people in the UK and can affect their ability to sustain relationships, work or just get through the day.  

Virgin Trains has taken the decision to place mental health at the centre of its responsible business agenda, in recognition of its role in the lives of communities across the network.

The rail operator consulted with its colleagues and community champions, who identified mental health, suicide and a range of related issues like homelessness, loneliness and cyber-bullying as key social issues. In turn, the Foundation was selected as its charity partner following a vote among 3,400 Virgin Trains West Coast employees.

The partnership will increase awareness of mental health and wellbeing to address stigma and discrimination. It will also encourage staff and customers to reach out and support those in distress and develop new ways of highlighting mental health across its network.

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of Mental Health Foundation said:

“The Mental Health Foundation is excited to be working with Virgin Trains to both raise the profile of workplace wellbeing and vital funds for our research. Their commitment to promoting the emotional wellbeing of their staff and customers is to be applauded.  That such an important company, and a household name, is committed to putting mental health at the heart of its business reflects the increasing importance and awareness of the need to promote good mental health for all. This is crucial because we know there is a strong link between a good working environment and sustaining good mental health.”

“It’s fantastic that the partnership will work with staff, supply chains, customers and communities. We are looking forward to reaching millions of people across the network while developing our wider charitable objectives through the opportunities and direct support Virgin Trains are able to offer us.”

Simarjeet Kaur, Head of Responsible Business at Virgin Trains, said:

“We’re delighted to be partnering with the Mental Health Foundation and providing our support to its important work. We know that mental health affects everyone and we hope that, by getting involved, we can help to increase understanding of mental health and start to address some of the stigma associated with it.”

Working with dedicated Community Champions in Virgin Trains stations, the partnership will develop local activities promoting mental health and return stations to the heart of their communities, as Community Hubs. At a corporate level, the Foundation will support Virgin Trains staff development and training, and collaborate on mental health themed media and campaigning work.

The partnership aims to raise vital funds for the Foundation, with a major burst of activity scheduled for Mental Health Awareness Week (May 16-22) which, this year, focuses on the theme of relationships and connection. This partnership is a relationship that will connect people to mental health across the UK.