By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
A mental health charity in Huddersfield is to have an old railway carriage as a new training centre … and when it arrives it sure will make a dramatic entrance.
For the Pacer train will need to be lifted into position at the Platform 1 charity based at Huddersfield Railway Station by a giant crane.
But the charity needs help preparing a hardstanding area where the 15-tonne train will go and has appealed for companies or individuals for help.
Ironically, even though the charity is very close to the rail lines there is no access to it from the track which is why the huge crane will be needed to lift it in on the weekend of May 8 and 9.
And it’ll be the ‘midnight train to George’ as the operation is scheduled to take place in St George’s Square shortly after midnight in the first few minutes of Sunday, May 9. There is a countdown clock ticking to the operation which you can see at https://platform-1.co.uk/countdown
The charity won the decommissioned train in a competition organised by the Department of Transport and legendary music producer Pete Waterman went to Platform 1 to tell them they’d won which was then broadcast on BBC1’s The One Show.
Platform 1 project leader Gez Walsh said: “We have many challenges to overcome before we can get the Pacer train onto the site. We need to create a hardstanding where the train is going to be placed. There is an existing one, but it needs extending.
“Our volunteers have been digging out the area for this. Any help would be appreciated so we would love perhaps a company to help us out otherwise we are going to have to do this manually.”
Part of the train will be transformed into a kitchen to help charity members learn skills to help them with nutrition, employment, self-improvement and their mental health.
Half of the carriage will also be used to teach members about IT skills such as how a computer works and how to repair it, online security tips and how to use the internet for everyday tasks such as dealing with Universal Credit.
The carriage will also be used for mental health first aid training.
Gez added that the charity’s work has never been more vital, helping hundreds of men with mental health issues. Huddersfield Hub recently revealed that Covid-19 is sparking a mental health crisis in Huddersfield with a worrying upsurge in the number of people trying to take their own lives. Platform 1 has recently set up a women’s group.
The charity has also set up a freephone helpline 0800 066 2828 during the pandemic which is now averaging 70 calls a month.
Frontline services realise the incredible work the eight staff and 17 volunteers at Platform 1 are doing to help people with mental health problems and men are referred to them from just about every professional organisation in the town from community mental health services and GPs to Kirklees Council and the police.
The staff do more than counselling as they can also help people with everything from benefits to housing and also go to see people in their own homes. Platform 1 is now helping men aged from 21 to 86 but the average age is 40 to 45.
Gez said: “Our main priority is helping with crisis support and mental health. Platform 1 will help anyone who needs some support.”
Anyone who can help with the hardstanding needed for the train can contact Gez on 01484 421143.
How you can help Platform 1
Funding is always a problem, but people can easily make a donation of just £3. All you need to do is text UCARE 3 to 70085 to donate £3. The way it works is that the text costs £3 but you can donate more this way if you want. The freephone crisis number is 0800 066 2828 and the office number is 01484 421143.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.