Kites, Trains and a Milibrother

avatar By vInspired Neil 30th January 12

I commute into London from the Chilterns – a beautiful area, famous for its wildlife. Red Kites soar above my garden; a Sparrowhawk recently perched on my bird feeder, waiting for its lunch to fly in; a fox wanders round the station car park at night; and my lane plays host to owls, bats, and badgers.

Like many Chilternians, I rely on Chiltern Railways to get into work. You would think that the trains would not pose a threat to the wildlife but in the weekend before Christmas, four sizeable birds were hit by trains, and their remains travelled all the way to Marylebone Station on the front of the train before dropping onto the tracks.

I hate to see dead wildlife so I reported the birds to the station staff, who weren’t interested … then the Chiltern Railways Twitter Feed (which escalated it to Network Rail but got nowhere) … then the Station Manager in person … then again to Twitter … and finally a formal complaint to Customer Services. The issue was even trending on Twitter for a while. The station manager said it was a Network Rail problem as the birds were on the lines. Network Rail, it seems, felt it was the Station Manager’s problem as the birds were in the station. After a couple of dozen communications spanning nearly a month, the manager grudgingly removed the dead birds. I despair at lack of initiative, recalcitrance, and those who side-step accountability.

What a refreshing contrast that the Team v Young Leaders at vInspired have such a “can do” attitude. In their recent food poverty drive, 41 of them inspired a further 308 young people and 135 schools and businesses (including Tesco and Morrisons) to secure over twenty thousand food items to help 6,629 poorer families over Christmas. The Young Leaders don’t hide behind jurisdiction; they don’t look for excuses to not do what needs doing. What is more, they are taking great pride in spending as little of their budget as possible. They blagged food from the public and supermarkets, and ran fundraising pub quizzes and Zumba classes.

Luke Harris went one step further: he spotted David Miliband on the tube one morning, and introduced himself; briefed the MP on the programme; and invited him to meet the volunteers later that week for a photoshoot outside the Houses of Parliament. Luke then jumped off the tube and sprinted across to the train at the opposite platform: he had gone way past his stop!

In a time when young people are often portrayed negatively in the press I, for one, can’t wait to give these Young Leaders a chance to run the country.