• Tackling Loneliness in England

  • It is no news that loneliness is a growing problem in England, with recent studies showing that over 3 million people often or always feel lonely. While loneliness can affect people of all ages, it is particularly prevalent among older people who may have lost friends and family members and have difficulty getting out and about.

    For many people, being able to attend social events, such as clubs or groups, is essential to staying connected with others. However, if someone is unable to drive or if there is no public transport available, it can be challenging to access these events. Community transport solves this problem, ensuring that people can attend social events and meet others in their community. 

    Since May 2022, the Community Transport Association has been supporting 18 pilots through the Tackling Loneliness through CT project to develop an evidence base for how transport policies can reduce the number of people feeling lonely in communities across England. The learning from the project could also help CT operators across the UK to unlock further resources from funders in the future to continue to help tackle loneliness.

    We’ve been amazed by the profound stories from passengers and volunteers who have benefited from the Tackling Loneliness campaign. Beneficiaries have shared stories of how the scheme has helped reduce social isolation, promote independence, and improve access to services and activities.

    The extra support provided by these services enables people to have the same access to opportunities as those who can access public transport. This includes community transport services tailored to the needs of people with learning disabilities or dementia, and volunteering opportunities assisting people in making new support networks.

    A snapshot of the data at the end of the pilot reveals:

    • The total miles travelled by all participants is 385,198.
    • 44% of all participants have a long-term condition or disability – of these 23% had a mobility impairment
    • Participants that accessed transport for journeys—67% are Female and 33% male.
    • 2319 participants were supported, while 181 volunteered.

    For more stats and information download our Infographic here.

    The baseline data shows a difference in levels of loneliness in rural and urban areas.
    • Overall, people in rural areas showed lower levels of loneliness, with only 11% feeling lonely often/constantly compared with 20% in urban areas. ​
    • 61% of rural respondents felt that accessing CT positively impacted their feelings of loneliness, isolation and companionship​.

    CTA encourages Community Transport Operators to ‘loneliness-proof’ their operations and activities – for example, through volunteer recruitment and support, considering the importance of a ‘warm welcome’ for people who are lonely, exploring how this applies from first contact to later reception from volunteers and drivers.

    Since the project kicked off, we have received tremendous feedback from passengers impacted by the campaign.

    One of the questions we’ve asked is ‘how has the TL scheme impacted passengers?’

    Passengers don’t get out anymore, their families live too far away, they don’t see anyone, they never go anywhere, and the TV is their best friend.  More recently people have been saying that the groups they used to attend closed during Covid and never re-started.  We have had a range of new people join in our various activities because of this.

    They are so pleased with the scheme that they’ve now asked if they could make a payment which would mean we can continue this project after the end of the funding – we are looking at the feasibility of this as an option. Age UK Trafford

    We’ve also noticed an increased appreciation of the relationship between drivers and passengers. For older volunteers, they’ve regained the sense of purpose that was previously lost when they retired. They now have a reason to get out of bed and make a difference. We have seen improvements in well-being for many of the men who attend our men’s group trips. Several have given positive feedback to state that they have developed friendships and have a better support network as a result. Bassetlaw/ Beacon/Merton/Otley


    I feel isolated at times so these trips that you have offered are very good and need more. I have been to Eastbourne in the Summer and then we went to the Pantomime. It was lovely. Thank you, Merton Community Transport. Sally, Resident, Belsize Court