Almost £5million has been allocated by the government to fund pilot projects which, according to the Department of Transport, will understand how transport can be used to alleviate loneliness.

This is from a partnership between the government and 12 organisations across England to deliver the projects which are said to be evaluated to develop an ‘evidence-base’ for how transport policies can reduce the number of people feeling lonely.

Today, the funding has been awarded to these organisations, with the pilot projects receiving a share of the £5million including support for older people using public transport after the pandemic, autism awareness training for staff across the transport network and a group electric cycling scheme.

Minister Baroness Vere said: “We will continue to work closely with transport providers and community groups to build an inclusive and accessible transport network.”

Living Streets secured finding for their Walking Connects scheme.

This project will encourage walking as a social activity and tackle barriers to walking such as accessing social locations.

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The accessibility of streets will be assessed, identifying barriers to walking for older people and suggesting improvements.

They have led projects in Cumbria, such as Walk to School Week, just to name one.

Stephen Edwards, CEO of Living Streets, said: “Walking and wheeling help improve mental and physical wellbeing, tackle depression and anxiety, and connect us with our world and those around us.

”They offer a free, easy and accessible solution to the debilitating impacts of loneliness.”

Age UK’s Travelling Companions scheme will involve volunteers across England encouraging and supporting older people to reconnect with their communities, including using public transport again, after the prolonged period of enforced isolation.

Hannorah Lee, director of partnerships at Age UK, said: “Around 1.2million older people in the UK often feel lonely, which can have a devastating impact on their mental and physical health, and the pandemic made the situation worse.

“Age UK’s Travelling Companions scheme will help significant numbers of older people to get back on public transport and go out and about once more.

“Best of all, it will have lasting benefits for them, improving their quality of life and supporting them to feel part of their communities again."

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