£500,000 for new transport scheme to combat loneliness

The West Midlands has been awarded nearly £500,000 for a new transport scheme aimed at combatting loneliness.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

The 'Let's talk' initiative will see four community transport vehicles with trained volunteers on board centred in communities across the region.

On top of this, eight community transport buses will be used for door-to-door access to existing local support groups that are struggling to recover post-pandemic.

The scheme was given £460,000 by the Department for Transport, and is one of 12 pilot projects receiving a share of £5 million in Government funding.

Ministers say they are planning to use the findings to shape how future transport schemes can contribute to reducing loneliness in communities.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, said 13 per cent of the region's residents were experiencing loneliness. "We don’t want people to suffer in silence," he said.

"So, it’s great news that funding is now in place to enable us to take forward projects like our ‘Let’s Chat’ programme that will help people in need to make new connections.

"Our transport network as a whole already plays an important role in alleviating isolation by taking people to social events and gatherings, and this new funding will allow us to add to that by having dedicated spaces set aside at bus stations and other venues being made available for drop in coffees and chat sessions."

Other projects to receive funding include the Nuneaton-based Connect+Go scheme, run by Volunteering Matters, which was given £284,000.

Minister Baroness Vere said: "Loneliness affects millions of people across the UK. Transport can help us solve this problem by connecting us to people, places, and experiences.

"This is a great opportunity to improve future transport schemes and shape the national conversation on loneliness.

"We will continue to work closely with transport providers and community groups to build an inclusive and accessible transport network."

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