Chatty bus combats loneliness and isolation over the festive period

picture of Mayor of Blackpool officially opening the chatty bench (a bright pink bench)

Following the introduction of a ‘chatty bench’ at St. Paul’s Medical Centre, Blackpool Residents Inquiry Claremont (BRIC) are launching a Chatty Bus Tour across Blackpool to help tackle loneliness and isolation.

The tour, which provides a space in which people can openly discuss their mental health and wellbeing, began on Sunday 1 December and will conclude on Monday 20 January, known as ‘Blue Monday’. There will be local charities and services on board to offer advice and support.

The unveiling of the chatty bench in October 2019 coincided with World Mental Health Day. This time around, the chatty bus aims to address the mental health issues that people face both during and after the festive period.

Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health at Blackpool Council, said: “This is a wonderful initiative which is launching at a particularly poignant time of year. Christmas and the New Year can often bring about feelings of isolation and sadness, so it’s great to see that BRIC are offering a helping hand to those in need.

“Having someone to talk to can make the world of difference to a person who is going through a tough time. The chatty bus tour is yet another step forwards in the mission to get people to open up about mental health problems.

“We hope that this initiative will inspire other groups to take positive action and encourage people to address the issues that we face as a community.”

Blackpool is recognised as an area that has a lot of issues with mental health and social isolation, which BRIC is eager to combat with the introduction of the bus. The group of community-spirited residents have undertaken a range of training courses to ensure that they are able to offer those in need the right advice. The aim of the tour is to offer a friendly face and a listening ear.

The Chatty Bus tour will take place on the following dates:

Wednesday 4 December

  • Claremont Park/Court – 10.30am-1pm
  • Moor Park Car Park – 1.30pm-5pm

Wednesday 11 December

  • Warley Road near Westminster School – 8am-9.15am
  • Spencer Court – 10am-1pm
  • Outside Layton Library – 1pm-4pm

Friday 20 December

  • @the Grange – 9.30am-12pm
  • Bispham Village – 12.30pm-4pm

Monday 20 January

  • Outside Bickerstaffe House – 8am-12.30pm
  • John’s Square – 1pm-6pm (Supported by Young People’s Services between 3pm-6pm)

BRIC has been supported by Blackpool Council’s Public Health team and the NHS Blackpool CCG. Its aim is to address what needs to change in order to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in the area.

In order to deliver the Chatty Christmas Campaign, the group has been working in partnership with Blackpool Coastal Housing, Time to Change, Together Lancashire, Sainsbury’s, Great Places Housing, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Empowerment, the NHS CCG, Blackpool Transport, Business in the Community, Care and Repair, Blackpool Sports, St. Paul’s Medical Centre and Phil Downie Photography.

If the campaign is well received, BRIC hopes to secure further funding and support to enable the group to continue such work in 2020.

For additional information on BRIC, follow @BRICgroupBPL on social media or contact davinia.jackson@blackpool.gov.uk.

If you are struggling over the coming weeks, call the Mental Health Helpline on 0800 915 4640 or Samaritans on 116 123.