New project in Norwich to get people chatting on the bus and combatting loneliness
PUBLISHED: 14:31 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:50 28 February 2020
Major businesses in Norwich are joining forces to launch a new project with the aim of combatting loneliness in the city.
Social isolation is a growing epidemic in Norwich - in 2017, the city was among the worst in the UK for loneliness, while last year it was named as one of the unhappiest places in the country to live.
In the attempt to combat this, Konectbus has joined forces with the Norwich Together Alliance to bring people together through conversation while travelling.
Starting on Friday, March 6, Chatty Bus services will travel along Konectbus routes 5A, 5B and 5C, which travel to and from Castle Meadow and through surrounding villages such as Sprowston, Wroxham and Blofield Heath.
Konectbus says that a third of bus passengers say they deliberately catch the bus to have some form of social interaction, while two in three believe that the bus creates strong community ties.
In order to help push these benefits onto more people in the city, volunteers from Aviva, Konectbus and Age UK will take up the role of 'Chatty Bus champions', giving out 'happy to chat' badges to participating passengers in the hope that it will result in more conversations being struck up while travelling.
These volunteers will board the bus services at Castle Meadow from 9.30am, ready to chat with fellow passengers.
The Norwich Together Alliance was formed by Aviva, and consists of a number of other well-known local businesses and charities as well as both Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council.
Members of the alliance include Konectbus, Age UK, Norwich City FC, Jarrold and Archant, the publishers of this newspaper, among others.
Norwich City legend and Age UK Norwich communications manager Jeremy Goss said: "I think the concept is fantastic - the Chatty Bus idea is really excellent.
"It's just one area being explored to bring the local community together in a transport situation."
Kate Price, neighbourhoods and community enabling manager at Norwich City Council, said: "We all need to get from place to place, and it's quite nice to have a natter while you're doing that.
"I think it will be brilliant."