FAMILIES enjoyed a festive day out by train as part of a special charity event and even got to meet Santa. 

Last week the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership teamed up with the North Essex Support Team, known as N.E.S.T, to take families for a day out by rail. 

The group made a return journey from Harwich to Manningtree.

N.E.S.T. is a registered charity taking direct action to help struggling and vulnerable people in north Essex.

They offer a wide range of support such as providing household items, home adaptations, winter warmer events, and help with food provision.

More than 80 families enjoyed the trip on a Christmas-themed decorated train with music and refreshments on board. 

Children received goodie bags and a gift from Santa, and on arriving back at Harwich, they were helped to choose a present for their parents.

Jayne Sumner, rail engagement officer for the Essex and South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, said: “We were delighted to partner with N.E.S.T to offer families a fun day out by train.

“N.E.S.T is a fantastic charity doing so much to enrich the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of the community and we were delighted to be able to help them in this aim.”

Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s customer and community engagement manager, said: “We were pleased to support this event which has delivered benefits to disadvantaged families on our network.

“We are very grateful to the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership for the great work they are doing to promote social inclusion and sustainable travel – it is fantastic that the railway in East Anglia can deliver social value back to the communities that we serve.”

This is not the only festive campaign N.E.S.T is involved with, as the charity is supporting around 170 families in the Harwich area this Christmas, as part of its One Beautiful Day Free of Poverty initiative.

The effort has included volunteers doing Christmas shopping in Harwich and Clacton, as well as more than 40 families from Colchester being able to spend time at Go Bananas for two hours with food and time to meet Santa.