Ahead of Time to Talk Day on Thursday 1st February, leading coach operator Aircoach and local charity Inspire have unveiled details of a new Wellbeing on Wheels initiative aimed at driving improvements in mental health and wellbeing for thousands of passengers.

The new link-up will see Aircoach passengers using the company’s popular 705X route between Derry/Londonderry and Dublin encouraged to transform their travel time into wellbeing time. They can do this by discovering a whole range of accessible short courses, toolkits and mental health advice, all of which can be read or completed during their time on board.

With few distractions for passengers while onboard, Aircoach and Inspire are hoping that people will take the opportunity to discover advice on issues including stress, anxiety, alcohol, drugs, gambling, debt, loneliness and building resilience. There are also a range of short courses on topics such as sleep, as well as information on how to access further support for issues of concern.

Passengers can access the Wellbeing on Wheels hub by scanning a QR code displayed inside coaches or via the Inspire Wellbeing and Aircoach websites.

Kim Swan (L), Managing Director of Aircoach and Kerry Anthony, CEO, Inspire Wellbeing (R)

Speaking about the inspiration for the initiative, Kim Swan, Managing Director of Aircoach, said:

Wellbeing on Wheels came about because, with so many of our Aircoach journeys and routes starting and ending at airports, we frequently see passengers grappling with a wide variety of emotions when boarding and disembarking our coaches. Also, we know conversations between passengers, who are often strangers, can see people opening up to each other about things that are happening in their lives.

Ensuring that our passengers are looked after is a key value for Aircoach and we wanted to see if we could find a way to help passengers combat any worries or negative feelings. We approached Inspire because, as a leading charity, it is known for its commitment to helping people improve their wellbeing. Together, we realised that we had a captive audience on board, with fewer draws on their attention than at other times in their lives. And, so, the idea of enabling them to turn their travel time into self-care time, through Wellbeing on Wheels, was born.

Along with Inspire, we’re tremendously excited by Wellbeing on Wheels and we hope it will be the impetus for many Aircoach passengers, and others, to start their wellbeing journeys.”

The need for this new initiative has been underscored by the findings of a new survey, conducted by Censuswide, which is being released to mark Time to Talk Day, the UK’s biggest conversation about mental health. Run by mental health charities MIND, Rethink Mental Illness and Inspire, in partnership with Co-Op, the research canvassed the views of 5,000 adults across the UK, including 1001 in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the poll results Inspire CEO Kerry Anthony emphasised the importance of projects like Wellbeing on Wheels:

As people across Ireland are starting conversations about mental health on Time to Talk Day, we are delighted to launch Wellbeing on Wheels, in partnership with Aircoach. The aim here is to encourage passengers to build a little wellbeing into their journeys.

We know from our research that people are still struggling with their mental health, with personal worries arising from things like the cost of living and distressing events going on in the world. So, we are hoping that, through this initiative, we can drive positive change by bringing mental health information directly to those who may need it. Whether it’s a mindfulness podcast for your trip, advice to assist with sleep or a self-help guide to relationships, Wellbeing on Wheels allows you space to build a little wellbeing into your day.

Aircoach and Inspire are encouraging anyone who feels they need support with their wellbeing to access the Wellbeing on Wheels hub. It can be found online at www.inspirewellbeing.org/wellbeing-on-wheels.