Coach buddies: Manchester friendship bus on drive to fix ‘older, lonely Britain’

Organisers behind a brand new friendship service hope to connect the over 45s of Manchester in a series of coach trips to some of this summer’s most popular events across the region.

A total of 30 seats are to be filled on the Friendship Day Tours coaches that are set to travel from Stockport and Chorlton to a range of different events including theatres, beaches, river cruises and spas.

The drive to get older people in touch and making friends was inspired by research commissioned by relationship charity Relate, that revealed that one in ten Brits believed they had no real friends.

And event organiser Stef Cali explained that she was determined to create a ‘relaxed and welcoming’ environment for people to meet and develop new friendships.

Stef told MM: “The whole reason why I’m setting this up is because I don’t think there is anything like it out there, and I definitely think there needs to be more opportunities where older people can get together and socialise.”

In a world where communicating with loved ones has fallen into the hands of the internet via computers and smartphone apps, it’s somewhat easy to forget the importance of physical interaction –something Stef believes is important to retain.

“The older generation tend to be forgotten, they’re put to the side which isn’t helpful,” she said.

“Some people who are over 45 find it hard to maintain a social life.

“There are so many people that are lonely and there’s so much research about it and this project aims to get people together who are in the community.

“We’re focusing on particular areas in Manchester.

As millions of people celebrated National Best Friend Day this week on sites like Twitter and Facebook, it’s clear that the idea of friendship is importance for many.

However, Relate’s research draws attention to the fact Britain still remains a lonely country, with more than four in 10 Brits admitting that they have no real friends in their workplace.

Stef said: “It’s the modern day, everyone is busy and people are working a lot.

“Especially for the older community, if you lose a spouse and you so secluded.

“We’re starting with Stockport and Chorlton with other areas to come in the next coming months.

“The meeting point will be on the coach for this first event for the FAB Festival. Once you get on the coach, those are the people you then go to the festival.

“When you come on these trips you’re all in the same boat, just interact and have fun really.”

For more information regarding tickets visit the Friendship Day Tours Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Katherine Harriman, with thanks.

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