Virgin Trains and Rethink Mental Illness have been working together since May 2017, training Virgin employees in how to deal with mental health issues that they might experience in their working and personal lives.
Christmas can be seriously tough on mental health. And so, Virgin Trains briefed us to deliver a campaign to help shine a light on mental wellbeing and deliver a caring message of hope and help during the holiday period. Our solution: culture. After all, the UK’s favourite Christmas film, It’s A Wonderful Life, deals intimately with a man whose life hasn’t gone to plan, a man who even contemplates suicide.
To help let people know that there is help to be found for those who need it at Christmas, we painted the entire text of It’s A Wonderful Life down the yellow lines of 7.5km of train platforms along the Virgin East Coast line, beginning in London Euston and ending in Glasgow. The film was screened via Virgin’s onboard entertainment system Beam, and alongside the text are painted web links directing passengers to a site containing advice and practical help.
Support for the campaign has been incredible, with millions of views and widespread coverage appearing in virtually every UK outlet but it’s resonance withe the British public is perhaps best summed up by Tim Adams, writing in The Observer:
[The campaign] aims to act as a reminder, amid the festive busyness, that for people struggling with loneliness and depression this time of year can be the toughest of all – and of the effect that small acts of kindness can have in keeping the most vulnerable away from the edge. The project also, perhaps, offers a quiet, unspooling answer to the questions that currently nag at our fractured national psyche – how will we ever bring our country back together? What are the values that we might unite around?