“Connecting people is at the heart of what our team does at Westbank. We have hundreds of volunteers spread across the county connecting people in many different ways - always with the aim of making their lives better in some way and helping spread a little bit more joy.

As an award-winning health and wellbeing charity, we’re always looking for new ways to connect individuals and communities and our latest initiative aims to help combat loneliness, particularly among those living fairly isolated lives in rural communities on Dartmoor.

We’re joining forces with another local health and wellbeing charity, Wellmoor, which works to meet the needs of people in and around Moretonhampstead and northeast Dartmoor. Together, we’re planning to introduce our Chatty Bus concept onto new routes on the moor.  It’s a simple idea: ‘chatty’ volunteers take the bus on selected routes to provide friendly conversation, information and support to passengers with the aim of fostering some human connection.

Westbank and Wellmoor will be working together to recruit volunteers to cover three of the Country Bus routes out of Moretonhampstead and to work out the best times of day to offer the service. Following recent conversations with Wellmoor’s Richard Foxwell and Camilla Rooney, we’ll also be looking to collaborate on a separate but similar project to take older and often isolated people on Chatty Bus group days out. 

Both of these Chatty Bus projects are being delivered as part of the ‘Connecting You’ pilot project with funding Devon County Council has received from the Department of Transport.

Dartmoor is a beautiful place to live but for those who don’t have family or friends nearby, it can be a lonely place to live. We know that there are many people who live in lovely locations on the moor who may not be poor financially (although some are), but who are poor in terms of human contact and interaction.

These are the people we are trying to reach with our Chatty Bus initiatives. For the days out we’ll be hiring a minibus and driver to take small groups to beauty spots, places of interest or on a shopping trip together. They’ll be on the bus for several hours and we hope that over time this will lead to conversation and perhaps even lasting friendships. Just the ticket to make their day a little less lonely.

If you would like to find out more about our Chatty Bus plans and our charity or would consider supporting us through volunteering or by making a donation or legacy, please take a further look around our website. 

Article from The Moorlander newspaper