Britons urged to “get the bus and talk more”, as new research reveals that more than one in 10 people feel lonely every day
More than one in 10 Britons (13%) feel lonely every day, according to new research published today which highlights the loneliness epidemic affecting millions of people in the UK.
Of those who feel lonely, almost a third (30%) say their loneliness is linked to having no one to talk to at home, the ComRes poll of more than 2,000 Britons found.
For some, feelings of isolation are broken by the interactions they have with outsiders, with more than one in 10 (12%) people admitting having spoken to a stranger in the past week in order to have someone to talk to.
Of these people who have spoken to strangers in the past month, almost a fifth of people (19%) said they struck up a conversation with a stranger on a bus just to have some form of human interaction.
The poll, conducted on behalf of Greener Journeys, follows previous research from the sustainable transport group which found that a third of people (33%) deliberately take the bus to have some human contact.
Further evidence of the crucial role that buses play in facilitating social interactions emerged from a trial conducted earlier this month by Greener Journeys in partnership with the charity Relate.
The trial saw designated listeners from the charity travel aboard a Go-Ahead bus in south London to encourage bus passengers to talk to each other.
The trial was informed by the concept of “sideways listening” – the idea that people are more likely to open up when speaking to someone side-by-side, as you would on a bus, rather than face-to-face.
During the experiment, strangers were seen striking up conversations with each other, highlighting how buses help reduce social isolation and loneliness – not just by connecting people, but also by providing an everyday opportunity for those who feel isolated to meet other people.
The vital role of buses in tackling loneliness will be the theme of this year’s Catch the Bus Week, which launches next week with the aim of encouraging people to leave their cars at home.
Previous research for Greener Journeys has shown that local bus services provide access to social activities and essential services, and improve the general health and well-being of individuals. Buses also provide vital access to education employment and training. A 10% improvement in bus service connectivity leads to a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation.
Two thirds of bus users have said that bus creates strong community ties, and 8 out of 10 know someone who depends on the bus. Bus travel helps people to be more sociable, with 37 per cent of bus users saying while travelling by bus they talk to people they’ve just met.
Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said: “Travel is the single most important activity that brings total strangers into close contact with each other. Public transport has a vital role to play in breaking down unhealthy social norms and providing opportunities for us to connect with each other. We need to get the bus and talk more.”