Asda has launched a new initiative in order to help those battling with loneliness, which has been heightened by lockdown measures.
In the run up to Christmas, the company is working with its delivery drivers and in store Community Champions to tackle social isolation.
From Wednesday 25 November, Asda’s 7,500 delivery drivers will have the option to sport a button on their uniform which says “Happy to Chat”. This button lets customers know that the drivers are happy to have a chat with them whilst their shopping is being delivered.
Because the buttons are optional, customers who see their delivery driver wearing one will have peace of mind that they really are happy to chat, and aren't just wearing the button because they have to.
Combating social isolation
The initiative was developed as it was revealed that delivery drivers offered a lifeline to those dealing with loneliness during the pandemic.
Asda states that almost a quarter (23 per cent) are only interacting with people once a week - many of whom are delivery drivers. One in four people said that they looked forward to seeing them just so that they could have someone to talk to.
One delivery driver said: “The times that we’re in at the moment, sometimes we’ll be the only person the customer sees all week.”
According to the Royal Voluntary Service, 13 per cent of people said they are experiencing loneliness, with over a third (39 per cent) unable to see friends and family, and a quarter (25 per cent) left without support nearby.
The badges are designed for the 42 per cent of people who said that they shy away from starting a conversation because they don’t want to be a burden, and the 25 per cent of people who would be happy to start a conversation if they knew the other person was happy to talk as well.
‘Challenging time for everyone’
Anna-Maree Shaw, CCO of 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.”
Vice President of Online Grocery at Asda, Simon Gregg, added: “We’ve always been proud to have some of the friendliest drivers here at Asda, and never more so than this year.
“The Happy to Chat badges are a symbol of the great work they do - delivering a little kindness along with their groceries to someone who may be lonely or isolated.”
The new initiative from Asda is backed by the Royal Voluntary Service, which is a national charity offering support and companionship for those who need it.
Sam Ward, Deputy CEO/Director of Services at Royal Voluntary Service, 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.”
It’s not just delivery drivers that can offer conversation for those who might be lonely - anyone can help.
These are some conversation starter suggestions from the Royal Voluntary Service that might help generate a chat with someone who really needs it:
How are you doing/feeling today?Have you spoken to any of your friends, neighbours or family recently?What’s your favourite meal?What’s your favourite Christmas food? Have you treated yourself to a mince pie yet, or are you not a fan?Do you think it will snow this Christmas?