Translink has teamed up with the Causeway Loneliness Network including the social work team and mental health practitioners within Causeway GP Federation to host Chatty Carriages, a socially engaging event aimed at helping those who may be isolated to feel more confident at using services, and helping them build friendships and community connections.
The pilot scheme developed by the Causeway Loneliness Network saw 19 participants accompanied on a train journey from Coleraine to the North West Transport Hub in Derry~Londonderry, on board a carriage dedicated to the group which enabled them to chat, ask questions and find out more about access to timetables, Smartpasses and up to date travel information to help build their confidence and independence.
Prior to leaving Coleraine station, the group were joined by Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor, Councillor Ivor Wallace who chatted to the group before waving them off on their journey.
On arrival the group enjoyed lunch, musical performances and poetry as well as a cycling workshop with Sustrans and a tour of the station and Translink’s Safety bus.
Commenting on the pilot scheme, Jane Reynolds, Primary Care Mental Health Manager, at Causeway GP Federation and a member of Causeway Loneliness Network, said, “Loneliness and isolation is a big issue, but there are small steps that people can take or encourage their loved ones to do which help to build essential social connections. The Chatty Carriages initiative is a simple way to encourage more people to utilise their local bus and rail services and to have the confidence to do so by familiarising them with aspects many of us take for granted, such as how to get a ticket and where to find timetables.
Thelma Dillon, Chair of the Northern Area Loneliness Network, added, “Access to public transport is a great facilitator for social engagement and so much more than taking people from A to B. It helps get people to appointments, social groups, and to visit friends and family, but people also build their routines around their journeys and use it as an opportunity to have a chat with other passengers and staff, many of whom they get to know and look forward to seeing regularly. Which is why the Chatty Carriages project is such a great opportunity to bring people together and help them make their own connections going forward.”
Yvonne Carson Lead for Loneliness, NHSCT continued, “I’m delighted that Causeway Loneliness Network has developed this new innovative initiative to help address isolation and loneliness. It builds on our other work in the development including Chatty Benches, Chatty Cafes, the Kindness Postbox and Human Libraries
The partners plan to take learnings from the Chatty Carriages pilot group with a view to planning further events.
Lending support, Mark Montgomery, Route Manager, Northern Area at Translink, said the initiative was an important opportunity to help those who feel isolated, saying, “We’re very aware of the role public transport has in connecting people, whether it’s for work, school, visiting friends or simply getting out more. The Chatty Carriages programme is a great way to remind people of the benefits of using bus and rail for convenient, hassle free journeys and for the opportunity to engage with more people and tackle loneliness.”