Asda delivery drivers wear 'happy to chat' badges to tackle lockdown loneliness

When’s the last time you had an actual chat? In real life, face to face (or face mask to face mask), not over Zoom?

For many people, it will have been months.

No wonder feelings of loneliness are on the rise during lockdown – opportunities for social interaction are limited when we’re not supposed to leave the house for non-essential reasons.

A brief interaction with a delivery driver might be the only face people say while isolated during the pandemic.

To make that interaction not so brief, and to help tackle loneliness as a result, Asda has launched a new initiative that will see some delivery drivers wear a ‘happy to chat’ badge.

It’s hoped these badges will encourage people to start a conversation and have a proper chinwag; which could be life-saving.

Drivers are not required to wear the badges – it’s entirely up to them – so you know that anyone wearing the badge is genuinely up for chatting.

The idea is that you’ll order your shopping, notice the badge, and feel more able to converse, giving you that oh so essential moment of social connection.

The scheme is backed by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), a charity that offers support and companionship.

‘The times that we’re in at the moment, sometimes we’ll be the only person the customer sees all week,’ said one driver.

Drivers have also been given guidance from the RVS in identifying whether or not somebody on the doorstop is exhibiting signs of loneliness, so they can engage when it’s most needed.

Anna-Maree Shaw, chief customer officer at Asda, said: ‘It’s a challenging time for everyone, especially those experiencing loneliness.

‘While Asda colleagues have always made an effort to have a quick chat and raise a smile, we want to make sure that whether it’s in our stores, at the doorstep or in the community – we’re here for customers this Christmas.’

Sam Ward, deputy chief executive and director of services at the RVS, said: ‘Royal Voluntary Service is incredibly proud to be part of such a wonderful initiative alongside Asda. We all understand that Christmas can be difficult for those who are on their own and that this year stands to be trickier than ever.

‘With the help of this fantastic project, it shows that even just a little Christmas kindness will go a long way in making the festive season easier for those in need.’

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