FREE tea and coffee will be offered to staff who have helped vulnerable people on the railway.

Train operator c2c, the British Transport Police and the coffee shops at local stations have joined forces to help vulnerable people in a new safeguarding initiative.

Under the Conversation Coffee initiative, CoffeeLink, Casa Coffee and Coffee Station chains at c2c stations will give free hot drinks to any member of staff who has spoken to a vulnerable person.

The scheme is designed to offer a safe space and relaxed environment to vulnerable people where they can talk and wait for professional support.

The new approach supports the Small Talk Saves Lives campaign led by The Samaritans.

Dave King, Designing Out Crime Officer and Community Relations Advisor for c2c said: “I am grateful to both Coffee Link and Coffee Station who have embraced this project and helped me get the idea off the ground on the c2c route.

“We know from experience that when someone is in distress, simply engaging them in conversation can make all the difference and help set them on the road to recovery.”

There are 11 coffee shops taking part in this initiative and every coffee shop based at c2c stations will be visited and invited to join the scheme.