Test Valley Borough Council have given their support to the Love Andover community bus, which was acquired earlier this year by local radio station Andover Radio.
The vehicle, a single-decker bus has been part-funded by players of the National Lottery and the government Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport will be on the road soon to combat loneliness in people of all ages around Andover.
Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) have given assistance through their councillors’ community grant to buy equipment for the bus.
Projects designed by Mo Sweeney from Andover Radio will help the area’s most lonely people, help them engage with society and learn new digital skills.
A recent study says that isolation blights both young and old, living in every kind of neighbourhood in the UK.
The funding from TVBC will help the project (code name: Love Bus) engage people from all walks of life across the north west Hampshire area.
Academics from King’s College London recently found that loneliness was an issue in town as well as ‘rural areas’ – in wealthy areas as well as deprived ones.
The report said that loneliness is “a particular problem among young adults – regardless of gender or socio-economic background”.
The study also says that adults are more likely to have a negative view of where they live, compounding their isolation.
“We have to beat isolation”, says project lead Mo Sweeney. “It doesn’t matter where you live, or what age you are. Practically everyone suffers a sense of loneliness in one way or another.
“We are creating fun, creative initiatives that will connect people from across the Test Valley, giving them new skills, new hope and new friends.”
The Love Andover organisation believes that by working together – rather than in silos – people and organisations from in and around Andover can make a big difference facing today’s society.
Statistics from Hampshire County Council say that 1 in 10 properties are occupied by a pensioner living on their own.
Local automotive company BP Rolls today also began supporting the project. Their creative Graphics and Art Coordinator visited the bus to start a plan to create designs for the outside of the vehicle.
Thanks to over £900 funding by TVBC, the Love Andover community bus project will be able to purchase laptops and software to enable the training of digital inclusion programmes which work with young people and older generations.
King’s College says of their recent study, “The findings reveal that among young adults, loneliness occurs equally within many different types of neighbourhoods, irrespective of urbanicity, population density, deprivation, or crime.
“If lonelier individuals are disposed to perceive neighbourhoods more negatively, this could lead them to make biased choices and avoid areas that are in fact more cohesive than they judge them to be.”
The ‘Love Bus’ project has been recruiting community workers from around Andover. It is anticipated to be at local events over the summer, as well as in more rural locations.
The community bus is having a radio and TV studio installed and will be seen at large outdoor events around Andover, where trained workers will assist and signpost people to other organisations in the town.
People who are interested in the assisting with projects designed and run by Love Andover which assist people and groups around Andover are encouraged to get in contact by email, here.