Arriva bus instructor Neil Atherton is switching from driving the bus routes to walking them, to raise money for those in need of help during the escalating cost of living crisis.

Neil, from Widnes, has been a bus driver for 22 years and has said that his job has allowed him to engage with those whose only affordable way of travel is the bus.

He said: “The bus is the cheaper travel, so you generally see people who are struggling for money, and we take them around.

I walk the routes because they’re our people who are struggling

“I walk the routes because they’re our people who are struggling and we see it more because we travel, and we see the poverty that people are going through at the moment.”

Neil Atherton
Photo by Neil Atherton

The kind-hearted bus driver is starting his hike on October 23 and has made a point of walking during half term to highlight that it is the worst time for a parent”, as some parents will struggle afford the increased bills and to feed the children while they’re away from free school dinners.

“It upset me watching all the TV shows saying how bad the living crisis is and nobody’s really saying anything or doing anything, and I thought I’ll just try to highlight that it’s really rubbish at the moment.”

This isn’t the 43-year old’s first charity effort. He walked the bus routes in Runcorn to raise money for the food banks during the pandemic, totalling 150 miles and raised a wealthy sum of £7,000.

He knows these bus routes like the back of his hand and thought why not walk the routes across Merseyside to home the people who need help, especially during this tough period.

The rising cost of living has affected the entire nation and according to the government the cost of living has been increasing across the UK since early 2021. The annual rate of inflation reached 9.9% in August 2022, close to a 30 year high, affecting the affordability of goods and services for households.

Neil had set a £100 goal but has already exceeded it raising £1,500 so far. His main goal is to raise awareness of the severity of this situation and bring attention to those who will really struggle this winter.

All donations will be divided between the Whitechapel Centre and The Trussell Trust food bank.

Listen to Neil talk about his walk on SoundCloud:

Arriva themselves aren’t ones to shy away from charity work as they host regular food bank drives and create a toy appeal every Christmas. Neil’s colleagues are placing collection buckets all around the Merseyside Arriva garages to show their support.

Bus stop
Photo by Chloe Bush

The Bus Walker sets off next weekend so if you see him about don’t forget to honk your horn, he is asking for people to join him on the walks and to donate £1 if they can, click here to donate.

Featured image: Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash


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