'Chatty carriages' get isolated people on right track for friendship

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Translink has teamed up with the Causeway Loneliness Network along with the social work team and mental health practitioners within Causeway GP Federation to host ‘Chatty Carriages’.

‘Chatty Carriages’ is 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 14 participants plus volunteers 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.

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On arrival the group enjoyed tea and coffee as well as musical performances. They were also given a tour of the station and Translink’s Safety bus team provided safe travel tips to help enhance their journey experience.

On board one of the Chatty CarriagesOn board one of the Chatty Carriages
On board one of the Chatty Carriages

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 passenger information.”

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Thelma Dillon, Chair of the Causeway 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.”

The partners plan to take learnings from the Chatty Carriages pilot group with a view to planning further events.

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Lending support, Mark Montgomery, Route Manager, Northern Area at Translink, said the initiative was an important opportunity to help those who feel isolated: “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.”

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."

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