A bus company says it has just the ticket to help its passengers find someone to chat to.
Go North East is launching Chatty Bus Champions to help tackle loneliness epidemic.
The move comes after research found three in 10 Brits go at least one day a week without speaking to anyone.
To support North Easterners who maybe battling with loneliness, Go North East is introducing the champions to three of its busiest routes on Tuesday.
From 9.30am to 3pm, Chatty Bus Champions will be boarding around 30 buses on three of Go North East’s most popular services, including:
*X9/X10 from Newcastle to Middlesbrough via Peterlee and Dalton Park;
*Angel 21 from Durham to Newcastle with stops in Chester-le-Street and Gateshead;
*X21 Castles Express from Bishop Auckland to Newcastle via Spennymoor, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Gateshead.
The company says they will keep the atmosphere fun and only engage with those who want to join in, the Chatty Bus Champions will be striking up conversations using a range of games and ice-breakers.
Martijn Gilbert, managing director of Go North East, said: “The bus is the original social network and this research shows just how vital a lifeline it is for those who feel lonely or excluded.
“Through our Chatty Bus Champions, we want our passengers to have a fun and engaging journey – be that through taking part in a quiz, playing a game on one of our convenient upper deck tables or having a good natter with their neighbour.
"The whole point is to make everyone feel happier as a result of being on the bus.”
The research used by the firm has been issued ahead of the Government’s Loneliness Strategy, which is due to launch this month and aims to tackle the growing problem of isolation felt by Brits nationwide.
The strategy is expected to include loneliness-combating policies resulting from factors including rising old age, a change in work patterns and the growing use of technology.
The bus firm's project comes after the research, undertaken by ComRes on behalf of Greener Journeys, found that almost two in three people admit to feeling lonely, particularly younger people.
The poll of 2,000 people also highlighted that a third of those surveyed deliberately catch the bus to have some human contact while two thirds of bus users believe the bus creates strong community ties.
More information about the Chatty Bus initiative can be found by visiting https://www.gonortheast.co.uk/chatty-bus/.