A NEW partnership between Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and community transport operators across the region is helping to connect people experiencing loneliness and social isolation with new friends and vital support services.
Over three million people across Britain have described themselves as chronically lonely in 2022, equal to the population of the West Midlands.
Through the Tackling Loneliness with Transport: Let’s Chat scheme, TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is sending mini buses into communities to provide residents with a safe space to enjoy a cuppa and a chat, and to get advice, or find out about local services and support groups in their area.
The Let’s Chat scheme is funded by a £460,000 grant from the Department for Transport.
It is now available in South Birmingham run by Shencare Community Transport.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, recently visited the Let’s Chat bus, run by Community Transport Group, when it pulled into Asda’s car park in Oldbury.
The Mayor said: “Any steps we can take to tackle loneliness and isolation in our communities – especially at Christmas time – is very welcome indeed.
“The pilot Let’s Chat scheme has been hugely successful and that’s why I’m so pleased to see it not only continue but also now extended into other parts of the West Midlands.
“Our public transport network plays a vital role in connecting local people right across our region and now alongside our partners we’ve found another way it can connect locals.”