Award-winning retirement villages operator and developer, Inspired Villages, today announces the launch of the Friendship Bus, aimed at combatting loneliness as exclusive research is revealed.
Aligned to Loneliness Awareness Week (13 – 17 June), Inspired Friendships – an initiative supported by Inspired Villages that offers a befriending service to the wider community, to prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation amongst older generations – is partnering with Stagecoach South East and Arriva to launch a new strand of the charitable service.
Data by Inspired Villages shows that six in 10 (59%) consumers admit to not feeling part of a local community that supports the needs of its residents, with more than one fifth (22%) saying their village or town needs to improve its community facilities. The research goes on to reveal that over one third of people (36%) aged 65-74 feel disconnected to culture, with a further 39% of the same age group either being part of or considering joining a local organisation to feel closer to their community.
In response to the need for community connectivity, the Friendship Bus will look to encourage conversations amongst older people as well as drive up confidence with taking public transport. The first service will run on Tuesday 14th June at 10am from King Street in Maidstone, to the Hollywood Bowl in Ashford and Elwick Road in Ashford, for a full day of Inspired activities. Operating monthly for members, the bus will visit destinations including the Isle of Sheppey for a stroll along the beach and fish and chips; Canterbury; and the Cat Café in Tonbridge.
As well as a promise of friendly faces, guests will be able to enjoy lunch together, free Wi-Fi and cash withdrawl machines around the bus stop locations. For more information on how to join the Inspired Friendships community, people can visit https://www.inspiredvillages.co.uk/about-us/our-impact/inspired-friendship.
Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, commented:
“We are excited to see Inspired Friendships launch the Friendship Bus in line with Loneliness Awareness Week, as it is evident we need to do more in our communities to bring elderly people together. The Friendship Bus not only breaks down the barriers for those who find it difficult to socialise day-to-day, but also helps them to gain confidence again after routines were shifted by the pandemic and people were forced to stay inside. We hope Inspired Friendships’ new venture with Arriva and Stagecoach will continue to restore confidence and enjoyment in its members, who are aged up to 99 years old, while facilitating old and new friendships!”
Managing Director of Stagecoach South East, Joel Mitchell commented:
“We are thrilled to be working with Inspired Villages to help tackle loneliness with the Friendship Bus. Buses play an important part in bringing people together. For some, the only person they speak with all day is the bus driver. Through this brilliant initiative, we have created a space for people to come together to let them know they aren’t alone whilst making new friendships along the way.”
Christian Obray, Regional Marketing Manager (South) Arriva, added:
“We are delighted to be able to be involved in this amazing project. To be able to be a part of helping with removing even one persons feeling of loneliness is incredible, we are really looking forward to helping in any way we can.”
Inspired Villages provides support to over 65s across its villages and throughout surrounding communities. This ranges from the role of Wellbeing Navigators in providing age-appropriate living, exercise, activities and mental health support, to initiatives such as Inspired Friendships whereby the community is encouraged to engage with and experience new things with like-minded people of a similar age. For more information on Inspired Villages or to become part of the Inspired Friendships community, please visit: [email protected]
Inspired Friendships member Linda Ross commented:
“When we feel we have support and are not alone, we are more resilient, often coping more with difficult times in our lives… I was introduced to this group by my best friend and dialysis buddy, and I am so grateful that she did as I have met a wonderful group of people that make you feel very welcome.”
Want to find out more?
We run events at our Inspired Villages all year around. Join our mailing list to get all of the updates on our future events.