A new hope

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Tolworth garage offers more than reparation work now. Tim Nicholas, a 15-year-old expressed interest in engineering and so carried out a two-week stint working on the buses. JADE SMITH

Giles Stapley, Service Delivery Manager at RATP Dev London’s Tolworth & Epsom Garages, and Rick Daultry, Reparation & Engagement Officer for the Youth Resilience Team at Achieving for Children in Royal Borough of Kingston, explain to Jade Smith the work Tolworth bus garage has been doing with local young people, both in and out of the court system

Five Transport for London (TfL) routes run from RATP Dev London’s Tolworth bus garage, four of which are high frequency. Another TfL route is starting in June, the K3 (Roehampton Vale – Esher High Street), which the garage had before Abellio won it. Tolworth also runs the Kingston University routes KU1 / KU2 / KU6, which are low frequency routes between all the campuses.

The garage’s Service Delivery Manager, Giles Stapley, has been working with Rick Daultry, Reparation & Engagement Officer for the organisation Achieving for Children, creating a partnership in order to provide opportunities for young offenders.

Small groups of up to six young offenders who are carrying out community service arrive on the assigned Saturday morning and are given the task of cleaning buses and removing graffiti, to pay back to the community in a practical way for the crimes they have committed. The idea is that the young people involved will reflect on their mistakes and become responsible members of the community.

Expanding on that idea, Tolworth has been having young people visit that haven’t come through the court system. Tim Nicholas was one of those individuals, and he shadowed the engineers in the workshop for two weeks. His visit featured in RATP Dev London’s internal magazine, Top Deck.[wlm_nonmember][…]

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I visited Tolworth bus garage based in southwest London to find out more.


When asked about how the partnership came about, Rick explained that it could be traced back to Giles’ wife, Odette.

“She was the mastermind behind the whole operation!” Rick said. “Odette has been working with me for five years, starting as a volunteer and is now a Sessional Worker with young offenders doing their reparation.

“Initially I was brought in to help find reparation for the youth offenders, which is the youth version of unpaid work. My role was to ensure the work was available and appropriately supervised with the proper risk assessments in place. I’m always on the lookout for new projects and developing ways that young people can have more ownership of their reparation, but still give back to the community.

“Odette approached me and asked if I had considered doing work with RATP Dev London, organising what we refer to as ‘restorative justice’ where the offender is directly repairing any harm made to the victim. Some of our young people have gone through the court process due to the fact they had committed criminal damage on a bus. Giles and I then started working together, offering reparation at Tolworth bus garage for the young people to carry out repairs and clean the vehicles.

“Giles then spoke to me about the apprenticeships they offer and the opportunities of shadowing engineers. My role also expanded a little when we were restructured so my job title is now Reparation & Engagement Officer.

“The young people I work with now don’t necessarily have to go through the court process because we’re part of the Youth Resilience Team (YRT), rather than the Youth Offending Team (YOT). We found that if a young person has committed an offence and is being seen by the YOT, there was a high chance they would also be involved with other teams from Achieving for Children: Substance Misuse Team (SMT) and the Adolescent Resource Team (ART). We found that one young person could have three different workers, so the three teams have been amalgamated now, forming the YRT. I now have a much wider pool of young people to work with, which enabled me to work directly with Tim Nicholas, a 15-year-old who expressed interest in engineering. His work doing the shadowing here was engagement rather than reparation.”




On select Saturday mornings staff members make some buses available for the young people to jet wash them, mop them out, clean the seats, and remove any graffiti or gum

Giles explained that on select Saturday mornings staff members make some buses available for the young people to jet wash them, mop them out, clean the seats, and remove any graffiti or chewing gum. Afterwards, Giles does a presentation on the bus industry and RATP Dev London, explaining how crime can affect the business.

“I’ll then take them into the iBus room to show them how we operate,” Giles continued. “I can explain how if a bus is vandalised it has to be taken out of service, and what effect that can have on our passengers and the business.”

Tolworth’s iBus room has two workstations. The Kingston University route is on a Ticketer system rather than iBus due to the differing ticket machines, but the day-to-day operation is treated like a TfL route.

“We have these days as and when required, usually once every three months,” Giles added.

Rick took up the story: “If case worker approaches me with a young person who has some hours of reparation to carry out and their offense is criminal damage to the bus or bus property, I might call Giles to organise some work.

“It’s very good for crime diversion as well. A while ago a young man was arrested due to CCTV evidence, as the police worked out who it was through that footage. He came to Tolworth bus garage to do his reparation where Giles showed him the iBus room which illustrated to him how easy it was to identify and catch him.

“A lot of young people are much more aware of the operation. It helps with consequential thinking. They can see they won’t get away with it.

“Reparation started here around two years ago. In that time, around 20 young people have come here, with up to five working here at a time.”

Rick: “I have to ensure the right people are put forward: those who are particularly keen on engineering and have the right attitude. They’re working in a professional environment with tools and with people who need to get on with their job and won’t hold their hand.” JADE SMITH


Tim Nicholas, 15, was the first young person to come to Tolworth bus garage to spend two weeks in the engineering department. Rick said when Tim expressed an interest in engineering, he knew Giles might be able to accommodate for that.

“Tim shadowed two engineers, each for a week,” Giles said. “He followed them around, helped prepare buses for MOT and did some servicing work. He also stripped down a turbo unit and was left to do a couple of jobs on his own.

“The feedback we got about Tim was marvellous. He always found something to do, even if it was just cleaning – he never stood around.”

“On Tim’s first day we went on a bus to get its MOT,” Rick explained. “The man from the DVLA who conducted the MOT also offered to show Tim how everything worked. I slipped off to have a cup of tea whilst Tim was shown what is required for a bus to pass its MOT.”

Rick said Tim’s enthusiasm for the work experience was evident through the effort he put in simply getting to the garage every morning: “Since his first application his family moved to Northolt, so he was getting up at 0400hrs to get here on time for 0900hrs!”

Tim talked about his two-week stint in the engineering department at Tolworth bus garage: “I’ve always wanted to work in engineering or be a mechanic. My Dad used to fix cars, so I’ve always wanted to work in a garage.

“I enjoyed the whole two weeks. I learnt a lot about how things work and that there isn’t a lot of difference between a bus and a car – everything’s just a bit bigger.”

“Two weeks of work experience works well as it can fit within the school holidays,” Giles added. “Tim has the option now to refocus his academic career, but if the course was longer he may have had to take time out of his studies.

“The engineering department does tend to slow down a little if there is someone shadowing them because they have to keep an eye on them, so any longer than two weeks can be a bit imposing.”

Last year RATP Dev London took on four engineering apprentices, a number that varies per year. They start off at Shepherds Bush garage before being moved around different garages to work with different teams to see how various operations and buses work. The apprentices are also sent to Bristol to carry out training. Around 300 applications were submitted for four positions, so competition is high.

Following the shadowing, there have been talks about Tim making an application for RATP Dev London’s apprenticeship scheme, once he is old enough. “The experience he gained alongside the quality of the work he put in would make him an ideal candidate,” said Giles. “Chris Thompson is Engineering Training Manager and said Tim can put him down as a reference because he was impressed with his work. That’s a good reference to have, even if he decides to go elsewhere.”

So far, Tim is the only young person who’s come to Tolworth bus garage for shadowing, but on the day I visited, another young man came in to be interviewed for the same experience.

“I have to ensure the right people are put forward: those who are particularly keen on engineering and have the right attitude,” Rick explained. “They’re working in a professional environment with tools and with people who need to get on with their job and won’t hold their hand. The engineers rightly expect the young people to have a mature and professional attitude from the moment they turn up.

“I’ve worked closely with this young man to ensure he’s got the right attitude and that he is going to be safe. He knows at the end of the day, doors will be opened for him through the work experience and references he will gain.”

Tim Nicholas, 15, was the first young person to come to Tolworth bus garage to spend two weeks in the engineering department. JADE SMITH

Feedback on Tim

Paul Anstee, Engineer, who is usually the mentor for any apprentices that work in Tolworth bus garage, said that for a 15-year-old Tim was very knowledgeable about mechanics. “I was very impressed with him,” he said. “I always know when a young person has played with spanners and I could tell from the offset that he’d done some work at home.


“He was like a sponge taking in all the information and I could tell he was enjoying himself. It’s always better to get a trainee who’s like that because it’s more rewarding than one who is just going through the motions.”

Kenny Henderson, Fitter, spoke about how enthusiastic Tim was: “He put his best into everything he did and didn’t falter in any area.

“The program is a great idea because it gave him an insight as to whether he wants to do this a career.”


Five Transport for London (TfL) routes run from RATP Dev London’s Tolworth bus garage, four of which are high frequency. Another TfL route is starting in June, the K3 (Roehampton Vale – Esher High Street). JADE SMITH

“It’s too soon to say whether this is reducing the amount of criminal damage done to our buses,” said Giles. “It’s a statistic that’s difficult to calculate – preventative work by its very nature is an offence that hasn’t happened, so we can’t measure what would have happened without our influence.”

“What we do know is that the young people who have gone through this scheme haven’t reoffended on buses,” Rick added. “Whether they were going to or not is the unknown factor.

“Tim is a classic example of a young person who has looked upon this experience as a career option. As we now cover youth resilience, if a case worker has someone interested in the transport industry they can come here – they don’t have to come through the court system.

“The apprenticeship scheme works brilliantly for four or five young people a year, but there’s still a large number who expressed interest in working in the industry that didn’t get a place. This way more people can come in to see if it’s the career for them.”

Rick explained that the partnership offers a multitude of advantages for both parties: “The bus company is looking at reducing offenses of criminal damage and I’m finding ways of getting young people aware of how their actions have an impact on companies and how they can get caught.”


UK Bus Awards and the future

Giles said it was really exciting to be recognised at the UK Bus Awards last year: “We were a Finalist in The Bus & the Community Award category. We hadn’t had Tim in when the application was sent off, so it was based on just our work with young offenders.

“A colleague of mine filled out the application for us. I attended the awards and really enjoyed it – it’s a great place to meet lots of new people.”

Regarding the future, Giles is optimistic: “We’re enjoying the partnership and want to expand it as much as possible.

“We’re testing the water at the moment, but we’d like to roll this out to other RATP Dev London garages and boroughs, as we have garages dotted all over west London. Shadowing could also take place in departments other than engineering, if the interest is there.”

Rick agreed: “Now the relationship is there, if I have a young person who wants to gain some experience in admin, for example, they could be put forward for that.”

Tim’s visit featured in RATP Dev London’s internal magazine, Top Deck. He was presented with a certificate to recognise his achievement


Asked for what advice they would give to other operators interested in setting up a similar scheme, Rick emphasised the advantage of having a good relationship with the local Youth Offending Team.

“Try and make the time to help these people in your local community,” Rick said. “Show them what goes on in the background and what effect their actions have on the bigger picture. It gives people second chances.

“What Tolworth bus garage is offering the young people in the borough is very important. A lot of other companies would think it was too much hassle, but that’s honestly not the case.”

Giles said that so far, the arrangement has worked well, and it shows promise for the young people, the local community and RATP Dev London.


The Bus & the Community Award, Finalist
Working with Young Offenders – RATP Dev London, Tolworth bus garage

Take a small group of young offenders, put them to work cleaning buses and removing graffiti and what do you get? Hopefully, a sense of remorse over the petty crimes they have committed and a desire to engage in life as a responsible adult. This is what RATP Dev London staff at Tolworth bus garage have been hoping to achieve through their work with the local Youth Offending Service. The young people, most of whom are from the Tolworth area, clean the buses as part of their community service, paying back in a very practical way for the petty crimes they have committed in – and against – the locality.

Whilst commenting that it was brave of the Tolworth garage to pioneer this scheme, the judges noted that it seemed to be effective and is making a real contribution to the local community. The element of training was also noted, and it was thought that other depots around the country could offer something similar.[/wlm_ismember]