Small Talk expert Rizwan wins Samaritans Lifesaver Award

A young man who has helped vulnerable people on the railway has won the Samaritans Lifesaver award. 

Rizwan Javed, who works for MTR Crossrail, was presented with the award, which recognises people who have used their talking and listening skills to save lives, at the Rail Staff Awards at NEC in Birmingham on Thursday. 

Rizwan, who completed Samaritans Managing Suicidal Contacts training course in 2015, has championed Samaritans’ training and performed many interventions on the railway network. 

Rizwan said: “I would like to thank everyone at MTR Crossrail for recognising my work and putting me forward for this award, I am truly overwhelmed. I’d like to think I’ve made a difference and it all started with having the confidence to build ‘Small Talk’.  I would really encourage each and every front-line colleague to attend the Managing Suicidal Contacts course with Samaritans, and have the confidence to approach, notice a vulnerable person and make our railway the safest it can be.” 

Since 2010, as part of its partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry, Samaritans has trained nearly 18,000 rail staff and British Transport Police officers with the skills to help someone at risk of suicide on the railway. More than 2500 have also been trained to recognise the symptoms of trauma in colleagues and to help them seek support. 

The Lifesaver Award, which is sponsored by Samaritans, recognises those who have shown courage and compassion by helping someone in crisis, supporting them and keeping them safe. This award aims to promote the fact that suicide is preventable and suicidal thoughts are often temporary, as highlighted in Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign. 

Neil Peters, Samaritans Strategic Programme Manager for its work with the rail industry, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Lifesaver Award again this year and we were proud to see our excellent training team named amongst the finalists for an award too. Whether someone is in crisis, is suffering from trauma or going through a difficult time in their lives, we know from training 20,000 rail staff, and from 65 years of listening, that giving people the time and space to talk about their problems can make a real difference to that person’s life.”  

Ian Stevens, Network Rail Programme Manager, said: “The training courses delivered by Samaritans on behalf of the rail industry are integral to our successful suicide prevention programme. All of the training courses run by Samaritans provide staff with listening skills that attendees have transferred into other areas of their work and home life too.” 

For every life lost on the railway, six are saved by those around them by staff or the public noticing a person at risk*. More than sixty rail staff were put forward for the Lifesaver Award. Of the 15 shortlisted, not all had undergone Samaritans training when they successfully acted to save a life. 

Picture caption: Winner: Rizwan Javed receiving his award 

Find out more about the Rail Staff Awards and Small Talk Saves Lives or you can show your support by following the campaign on Instagram or sharing on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #SmallTalkSavesLives.  

For further information and interview requests, please contact Samaritans’ Press Office on 020 8394 8300 or press@samaritans.org.  

Notes to editors: 

  • Due to the link between certain types of media reporting and increases in suicide rates, please note Samaritans’ Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and Rail Suicide factsheet.  

  • *In 2016/17, there were 6.7 potentially life-saving interventions made for every suicide or suspected suicide on the railway. Figures calculated using data from the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and British Transport Police (BTP).  

  • Samaritans works in partnership with the rail industry and British Transport Police (BTP) to reduce suicides on the railway. This includes training railway employees and BTP staff to look out for and offer support to people who may be suicidal and working in the wider community to promote help-seeking behaviour. Find out more at: https://www.samaritans.org/railindustry   

  • Anyone can contact Samaritans for free in confidence any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, and the number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch where you can talk to one of their trained volunteers face to face.