Samar­i­tans: Net­work Rail cor­po­rate partnership

Exhibited by
Julia Worthington
September 17, 2020
Medium of Communication
Corporate partnership
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Mental health
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Fundraising consultant Julia Worthington shares what might be one of the sector’s best-ever collaborations. 

In her presentation at the all virtual version of I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT) in 2020, Julia explained how thorough research, identifying pressure points for a corporation, and good fundraising were able to unlock massive results for Samaritans. She also shared a video advertisement that was made especially for their partnership with Network Rail. We think you’ll agree it makes an impact.

Summary / objectives

In 2010, Samaritans – a UK mental health charity – were looking for a corporate partnership. The UK’s railway company Network Rail were looking to help support staff who were dealing with the trauma of witnessing suicides on the tracks. They also wanted to access relevant training courses for employees working at their many stations across the UK.

So that same year, a three-year relationship was launched, joining together Samaritans and Network Rail. The results have been amazing.


Back in 2010 mental health issues and suicide were not discussed as openly as they are now. And they certainly were not seen as suitable causes for corporate organisations to engage with a charity partner over. The challenge for Samaritans was to find corporations that would work with them. The answer was to do some research. 

Someone at Samaritans decided to look at industries where suicide was a real issue. And tragically, every year an average of over 200 people take their lives on the UK’s railways. As harsh as it sounds, this costs Network Rail around £1 million per annum (2012 figures) and they knew they needed help if they were to support the brave staff who are involved in these emotional and upsetting incidents. 


The partnership was a great fit, one where both the charity and the Network Rail would benefit. ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ became the theme for the campaign.

Financially, it was worth about £1 million per year for Samaritans (so that’s £10 million since it started ten years ago). This revenue was split between training and donations from Network Rail. 

In its first year, this partnership allowed Network Rail to achieve a 13 per cent reduction in suicides and in 2012 it won the Best Corporate Partnership at the UK Charity Awards. Now it its tenth year, the partnership has allowed 20,000 Network Rail staff to be trained in suicide prevention, 1,300 employees have had trauma support training, and local branches of Samaritans now support stations where suicides have occurred. Equally, there is very visible marketing for the ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign around UK stations – with posters and signs featuring the number to contact  Samaritans. 

Special characteristics

Below you can watch Julia’s full seven minute presentation on this fabulous partnership and learn how it works in practice. It includes an advert developed especially for this campaign – called Sarah’s story. Trigger warning: some viewers may find some of the content in this advert upsetting. 

You can call Samaritans free on 116 123.
The partnership has brought in £10 million for Samaritans and had a real impact on reducing suicide and training railway staff.
Network Rail were deeply concerned about the emotional trauma their staff members were experiencing when suicides occurred on the railways.