Couples volunteering on the Railway
article by: RB
There are many opportunities for couples who want to work on the railway which usually become self-evident when considering the practicalities. The overriding one is transport - for reasons of mileage and/or one or two drivers - do they need to travel together or are they happy to proceed separately? In this article we will consider they travel together as this needs more planning - if you travel separately it is very easy to help you integrate successfully.
The next choice is rostered or non-rostered functions. Examples of rostered are catering, station and train staff. Non-rostered are carriage cleaning, lineside clearance, carriage and wagon, "Friends of" functions at stations - gardening, tidying, maintenance etc. Let's state right up front - LADIES, YOU ARE VERY WELCOME! It is true you may be in a minority in some departments, but come along and even the numbers! The GWSR is noted for its camaraderie amongst the volunteers and roles are definitely not "his" or "hers". If you can do it - pitch in!
The easiest rostered department for couples to work in is Catering. This can literally be on the train or in the Coffee Pot Cafe at Winchcombe. Many couples work in this department. If you are a couple that likes meeting lots of people, this is for you.
A variant on this is one half of the couple working in a rostered department and the other half in non-rostered. Duties may be at different stations but they are not far apart and it is not usually a problem in practice. If both duties are non-rostered then there is no problem. They could be in the same building but not necessarily doing the same things - Carriage and Wagon for instance has a half dozen or so sections - painting/ upholstery/ woodwork/ welding/ administration to name a few.
You may wonder why rostering is such a key feature in the decision making. Clearly if you are rostered for a duty - booking clerk for instance, it is important you attend on the date and time as promised. The challenge is that different departments, of necessity, run their own schedules. So if one half of a couple is a guard and another a station master (different rosters) they have to make promises to attend without knowing if they will match. If they are the same roster (Railway Catering, station staff) it is much easier to arrange.
In addition there are duties at special events (see our separate article for what you can do together on these occasions) that can be co-ordinated.
In short there is no problem in couples volunteering together, it may just take a little more planning. We already have 71 couples plus some parents and sons/daughters so you will be in good company. In return you will meet like minded people and have a great deal of fun and shared enjoyment, whilst at the same time doing something worthwhile. Seeing families enjoying themselves because of your efforts is very satisfying indeed knowing that you have made a contribution together.