Yorkshire's Magnificent Journey


Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey project will start this spring thanks to a £4.4m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The £10m project has also received £1.75 million from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), as well as contributions from local organisations and private donors. With a combination of donations and grants, the railway has raised 90% of the funds to deliver the project. However, we still need to raise an additional £1 million by 2022 to be able to complete the project.

Volunteers are vital to the continued operation of the NYMR; from the work by the founders leading to the re-opening of the railway in 1973 through to the NYMR we have today, every one of the working volunteers who have supported the railway over the years has made a vital contribution. 

Appointing a Development Officer to focus on volunteering as part of the Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey project will build on past success and help us explore new ways of identifying potential volunteers to help them find their niche.This five-year time limited post will ensure a sustainable flow of new volunteers is in place for the future by the end of the project.

Finding and retaining up to 100 new volunteers each year is a huge challenge for the busy volunteers who currently confront this task.The Development Officer will be able to take forward recruitment and training initiatives which currently just don’t get done because of the lack of spare time. Not only will this help the railway become more sustainable by producing new generations of help but it will help stem the otherwise inevitable increase in paid staff numbers that results from our limited ability to go out and find those with the enthusiasm and skills we need across the wide range of railway activities.

The proposed HLF project is a way in which we can get a real focus on developing volunteering and set up systems, links and ways of harnessing volunteer skills to best effect to integrate and complement the work of full time staff, delivering an excellent service to customers.

The areas to be developed are:

  • Identifying sources of volunteers, particularly in the urban centres neighbouring the North York Moors
  • Improved records management to support the volunteer development team with a properly developed, operated and managed skills database
  • Develop a system with the NYMR Management to identify skills and expertise necessary to support requirements which includes, routine jobs, short term-task focused roles across the whole of the railway
  • Exploring opportunities to build on the agreements with external companies who offer volunteer workers as part of their training and development within their own organisations
  • Identify with potential employers how they can be supported to benefit from volunteers at the railway into their organisations
  • Explore the creation of a pathway for juniors through 16-18 year age group into mainstream volunteering, including the exploration of developing peer support and managing the interface of under 18s and above

With the input of a Development Officer, we will be able to take volunteering to a new level and identify how the volunteer team of the future needs to look to make the changes sustainable.

One aim of the Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey project is to remove barriers to volunteering so that a new generation of volunteers can be attracted to the railway. The dismal facilities for volunteers and the lack of good quality overnight accommodation are seen as two significant barriers. It is proposed to directly address these two separate but closely related issues.

Sustainability of the NYMR requires us to attract new generations of volunteers. It is clear that our inability to meet modern (quite modest) expectations of toilet, washing and overnight accommodation standards is a failing, and one which we must address to appeal to a wider range of current and potential volunteers.This is especially true of women and family/young volunteers, and we are especially keen to build on our early successes in developing these areas.

The accommodation will be used primarily by our volunteers. Volunteers frequently visit for weekends, while some devote a week or even up to two weeks of holidays to work at the railway. At the moment the volunteers are predominantly male, but there is a significant and growing proportion of female footplate crews. Meanwhile our Junior volunteer programmes bring groups of teenagers, always with supervisors and sometimes with parents all of whom need accommodation.

The Proposal

Other railways have already successfully completed volunteer accommodation projects, which would feature both clean and dirty areas and locker room, reception area, decent sized kitchen and dining area, living room, accessible toilet(s) with sink, bedroom, shower room, a plant/boiler room and an equipment store. All of these to be accessible for disabled staff and volunteers.

Multiple showers and toilets, each with sinks, will be provided and there may be a case for including some double-sized units for families.

The budget we have for this development is £450,000, 50% of which would be provided by HLF grant. Our challenge will be to provide the maximum possible facilities for the sum available. It will be a huge investment in our future sustainability. Your donations will be crucial to making this happen.

Your support and generosity can help us achieve our goal, Yorkshire's Magnificent Journey!