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Monmouthshire launches anti-loneliness projects


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Monmouthshire County Council has launched two projects aimed at finding solutions to loneliness and limited public transport in rural parts of the country.

The move is the latest step in the GovTech Challenge, backed by the Cabinet Office, to provide rural solutions to various social problems.

The council has selected the two projects from five that were funded to develop concepts and plans to work with its private sector partners on further development over the next year. Both will receive up to £500,000 from the GovTech Catalyst fund to develop their concepts.

One comes from Box Clever Digital, which has proposed a digital platform named Thrive to help people in remote areas by improving transport options. It is aimed at helping local authorities to promote mobility-as-a-service through lift sharing, private hire and a better direction of public transport.

The company has said the platform could provide users with information on public and volunteer transport and dial-a-ride services, and should give people a wider choice at a variety of prices.

For statutory care services it could reduce costs by making people in need of support more resilient and encouraging other members of the community to help.

The solution is also aimed at helping people at risk of loneliness to build the skills, mindset and connections to reduce the risk.

Encouraging involvement

The other project, named Connector, will be led by the Behavioural Insights Team and aimed at increasing the council’s understanding of loneliness at local level, and making it easier for people to get involved with community activities. This will involve highlighting community events and groups.

It is based on behavioural science and will aim at tackling underlying mental and physical barriers to take part.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social justice and community development, Councillor Sara Jones, said: “I would like to congratulate Box Clever Digital and the Behavioural Insights Team as they move into the next phase of the GovTech Catalyst.

“These two innovative projects were selected among a high calibre of projects which all presented fantastic solutions to the challenge of rural isolation here in Monmouthshire. I’m excited to see how both projects progress in the next phase.”

The GovTech Catalyst has provided backing for five projects to help tackle the problem of rural isolation and loneliness. The awards are part of the £20 million Govtech Catalyst Programme, launched by the Cabinet Office in November 2017 to help innovative tech firms solve public sector challenges through innovation and emerging technologies.

Image by Row 17, CC BY 2.0

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