A busy bus certainly isn't the place people want to be at the moment so it has raised the question just how our bus network can continue to help tackle social isolation across the community.
We launched Chatty Bus in Norwich earlier this year. It was a great success receiving lots of positive praise from across the Norwich community and even further afield.
Konectbus brings groups of people together with one sole purpose – to travel to where they need to go. Then by using the power of speech, something which most of us have and the ability to use, we start to chat, breaking down barriers, putting our passengers at ease and making their journeys even more enjoyable.
We might not all be able to travel at this point in time but soon we shall and our bus network will grow to support even more people as they journey to work, visit family and once again get to experience the fabulous places found across our county.
As we continue as a nation in lockdown we have evaluated how to keep these conversations going.
How do we bring the Chatty Bus concept to people who are staying safe in their homes and then it became clears, we launch a Virtual Chatty Bus.
Using chatty bus champions, we contact people who are feeling isolated – by phone - in their homes and spark conversations.
These are our bus drivers and office staff, currently on furlough willing to volunteer their time and volunteers from local businesses and charities within the Norwich Together Alliance - happy to chat, share stories and simply offer a friendly listening ear -maybe even spark a new friendship.
Konectbus and Age UK Norwich will collaborate on their telephone befriending scheme to identify local people who would benefit from our support both now -during this time of need and in the future.
Chatty Bus is a great concept and one that needs to keep its wheels moving. Whether this be out on the road supporting those face to face or by bringing the concept to their home -virtually - as we remain on lockdown.
If you wish to volunteer and become a Chatty Bus Champion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.