Amid research highlighting three in 10 Britons go at least one day a week without speaking to anyone and in a bid to support those who maybe battling with loneliness, Go North East is introducing Chatty Bus champions to three of its busiest routes on Tuesday 29 January.
The move comes after the research, undertaken by ComRes on behalf of Greener Journeys found that almost two in three people admit to feeling lonely, particularly younger people. The poll of 2,000 people also highlighted that a third of those surveyed deliberately catch the bus to have some human contact while two thirds of bus users believe the bus creates strong community ties.
From 09.30 until 15.00 next Tuesday the Chatty Bus champions on Tuesday 29 January will board around 30 buses on three of Go North East’s most popular services, including:
- X9/X10 from Newcastle to Middlesbrough via Peterlee and Dalton Park;
- Angel 21 from Durham to Newcastle with stops in Chester-le-Street and Gateshead;
- X21 Castles Express from Bishop Auckland to Newcastle via Spennymoor, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Gateshead.
Keeping the atmosphere fun and only engaging with those who want to join in, the Chatty Bus champions will strike up conversations using a range of games and ice-breakers.
Martijn Gilbert, managing director of Go North East, explains: “The bus is the original social network and this research shows just how vital a lifeline it is for those who feel lonely or excluded.
“Through our Chatty Bus champions, we want our passengers to have a fun and engaging journey – be that through taking part in a quiz, playing a game on one of our convenient upper deck tables or having a good natter with their neighbour. The whole point is to make everyone feel happier as a result of being on the bus.”
The research comes ahead of the UK government’s loneliness strategy, which is due to launch this month, with the aim of tackling the growing problem of isolation. The strategy is expected to include loneliness-combating policies resulting from factors including rising old age, a change in work patterns and the growing use of technology.