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We don’t just listen, we act: Samaritans and Network Rail Partnership raises the bar for corporate charity partnerships

By Becci Gould

3 March 2016

Samaritans recently launched We Listen, the latest campaign from the charity’s partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry aiming to support those who could benefit from somebody really listening the their problems.

The creative is clever in the way it demands a response from the reader and it’s great to see the charity sector using virtual reality and 360 video to heighten understanding of their cause. However, arguably the biggest success of this campaign is the authentic and purposeful partnership developed with Network Rail. For me, this is what sets it apart from other charity awareness campaigns.

Too often than not charity corporate partnerships are based on a financial exchange. Here is a clear example of how a partnership between two organisations that have commonality can go far beyond fundraising to lead to real behaviour change.

Not only will Network Rail be opening up their assets to the charity, by displaying the posters in rail stations across the country, rail staff will be trained on how to support someone contemplating suicide.  It’s commitments like this from corporates that will really help catapult issues into the public sphere and create movements for change.

What also helps this campaign (from Good Agency) stand out from the crowd is that the link between Network Rail and Samaritans doesn’t really need to be explained. One in twenty suicides in the UK take place at train stations. Samaritans offers a crucial listening service that can help people reaching that desperate point. It’s a no brainer.

As a communications agency working with both corporates and charities to accelerate social change we believe partnerships, if done well, have a huge role to play in helping real change to be achieved.  However, with criticism around funding streams for charities continuing to rise, consumers are seeing through empty fund-based exchanges. Both parties now need to be smarter about how they select an authentic partner, but also how they maximise their potential through channels, reach and communications.