Local News

Just the ticket: Andover’s ‘Love Bus’ ready to launch

The team at Love Andover HQ are getting ready for the official launch of our community bus project.

Local radio station 95.9FM Andover Radio was awarded funding from the Big Lottery Fund (Building Communities Fund) and Her Majesty’s Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to acquire and renovate a single-decker bus and design and deliver projects which aim to reduce social isolation in the Andover area.

The ‘Love Bus’ is a mobile community hub with broadcasting facilities. The team behind the ‘Love Bus’ project plan to use the 1983 Leyland Lynx to go to different parts of the area to encourage people to get together, communicate and share their stories and skills. 

Andover has pockets of deprivation within some of the town’s estates and several villages around it where people suffer social isolation, especially our more mature residents. Figures from Hampshire County Council show that 1 in 10 properties in Hampshire are occupied by a pensioner living on their own.  

Andover and the surrounding areas also have many military families around in need of assistance to connect with local civilian families.

Project Manager Mo Sweeney says, “As a fast-growing town with lots of new, large housing developments, new residents to Andover need a platform to meet each other and make connections with those who are already residents of Andover and surrounds.

“The bus is a mobile hub, staffed by two part-time workers and a raft of volunteers that are able to visit those out in the community and meet with people in the areas of which they live.

“They will be able to share information, offer digital and media skills training, but just as importantly call people to get together and share their stories with the group and even on the radio. We will be there to connect with people and get them to connect with others both locally and more widely in the community.” 

The bus will be officially launched this coming Tuesday (10th December 2019) with representatives from the many organisations that support the bus’s ongoing work attending a short presentation.

The project has been supported by organisations like Unity, Cardea, Valley Leisure and Andover-based company Stannah.

A spokesperson for Stannah, whose motto is ‘Lifting Community Spirits’ said, “Projects like this are vital to help bring people together and enable them to feel part of the community.  We are always looking at ways we can engage with local projects that benefit those who might be struggling to fit in. 

“We are delighted to be able to help the ‘Love Bus’ in their drive to tackle social isolation and wish them every success in the future”.

Stannah, Andover

Local garage Red Post Services have been instrumental in making sure the bus is roadworthy and will be serving the vehicle ahead of Tuesday’s official launch.

The team behind the bus believe that “everyone has something to offer and asking them to share helps them connect to the people round them of any generation”. Although the bus will be in use at community events, and therefore in contact with potentially thousands of people, some of its most important work will be done with smaller groups of people on weekly rounds. 

Mo Sweeney adds, “We plan to use the bus in Andover and the surrounding villages to work with the older generation and young people while also visiting areas affected by social deprivation.

“We have also developed a loneliness survey for people to complete. We ask anybody to kindly fill this out it will only take a few minutes”. Survey below:

CLICK HERE: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MFFZSRW

Click below to read a little bit of information on the help the team have received from organisations, people and companies:

Mo and Ella will be talking to Ben Morris on Andover Radio’s ‘The Word’ programme this Monday evening at 8:00pm and in promotion of the reduction of social isolation, Andover Radio recently talked to TV star Jessie Wright about the problems of ‘loneliness’ – listen below:

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.