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The Drive and Cuppa programme - getting out and about again

Bristol Community Transport are helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation for people who have been shielding - with a simple trip out and a cup of tea.

Posted: 16 Sep 2021

Bristol Community Transport are helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation for people who have been shielding - with a simple trip out and a cup of tea.

Lockdown has been a stressful time for everyone, but for older people who have been shielding, it has meant months on end stuck at home.  This places people at serious risk of social isolation and, for many people, has increased their levels of social anxiety – making them nervous or afraid to get out and about.

This is where Bristol Community Transport’s Drive & Cuppa programme comes in. It’s a really simple idea – a trip out to a local beauty spot in a BCT minibus with a handful of others for a cup of tea or coffee and then back home again.  It’s a chance for a chat and some fresh air, just enough to get people out and about again, rebuilding lost confidence and making social connections.

“During lockdown, we switched from taking older people out and about to supporting the effort to distribute food to those who were forced to shield” explained Lily Geraghty, Acting General Manager at Bristol Community Transport.  “We could see how being shut inside was affecting people’s confidence and wellbeing and wanted to do something about that as soon as it was safe to do so.      

“With support from Bristol City Council’s programme to tackle isolation, loneliness and mental health, we put the Drive & Cuppa programme together. The participants are either our own service users or are referred by Age UK – all are at risk of significant social isolation.

“We’ve been to lots of popular places – Blaise Castle, Chew Valley Lakes, Ashton Court Estate and the Downs Observatory. We bring seating so people can sit outside and enjoy a cuppa, taking in nature and having a chinwag. There’s a volunteer support worker there to help get the conversation going, particularly as many people have become out of practice.

“The participants tell me that they really look forward to it – some even dress up, enjoying the social aspects. They make requests for new destinations and refer people they know. We can see people becoming less anxious, more social and their confidence returning. The hope is that people start using other services like Dial-a-Ride and begin to recapture their independence after the trials of the last of 18 months.”

Eileen, who came on the recent Drive & Cuppa trip to Ashton Court Estate said “I was very appreciative of being able to get out and enjoy local beauty spots with good company and hosts”