Loneliness is one of the UK’s biggest public health challenges, with research indicating that 3 in 10 Britons go one day a week without speaking to anyone close to them.
Go-Ahead bus companies tackle loneliness across the UK with the 'chatty bus' scheme - a unique initiative to help both passengers and colleagues.
Sometimes called “the original social network”, two-thirds of bus users believe that the bus creates strong community ties. The chatty bus scheme was launched in response to the government’s loneliness strategy in January 2019, and since then our operating companies have been shaping and moulding the initiative to suit the passengers in their communities.
Initiatives include having 'chatty bus ambassadors' who come on board busy routes and encourage conversations. Other operators, such as Go South Coast, have worked with local charities and organisations to help spark conversations with passengers - even bringing a piano on board to encourage a sing song. Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove Buses has worked with local charity Table Talk to promote its 'chatty cafe' network.
With the impact of Covid-19, the chatty bus initiative has gone online. Go East Anglia is working with Age UK, with its chatty bus champions contacting people who feel isolated via phone.
We have chosen five of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals as our areas of focus. Our chatty bus initiative shows our commitment to Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being). We aim to tackle loneliness through buses, which connect people across towns and cities.