In a world where we are more connected than ever before, it is a sad irony that we communicate less. Modern technology has equipped us with the ability to video call with someone on the other side of the world, or reconnect with long lost friends and family with a few clicks or taps on a touchscreen. But despite incredible advances in technology, many people find themselves feeling isolated and lonely. We might have 1000+ ‘friends’ on social media, but how good are those connections? We seem to be losing the art of connection and conversation, and this is leading to more cases of social isolation and depression. In 2017 there were 5,821 suicides registered in the UK, which is an issue that Ross Smith is working hard to address, with his Battling Suicide Bus Tour and his ingenious creation: 5asideCHESS.
“5asideCHESS uses a shorter, faster and easier version of traditional chess which acts as an icebreaker, getting people off their phones and talking to each other. The first 5asideCHESS Battling Suicide Bus Tour took place in summer 2018 and visited 40 towns and cities across the UK. The aim of the tour was to highlight loneliness and social isolation and how this can lead to serious mental health issues, and in extreme cases, suicide. The tour had a simple mission; connection – to get people talking, checking in and checking up on their mates,” Ross said.
Over the last three years we have seen and heard countless stories of connections made through playing 5asideCHESS
“In January 2019 we kicked off our second, year-long Battling Suicide Tour and this time we are focussing on universities and colleges, although we will also be visiting businesses, hospitals, prisons and other projects along the way. In fact, anywhere that understands the very positive, real connections that can be made through the powerful combination of 5asideCHESS and the Battling Suicide Bus.”
“Over the last three years we have seen and heard countless stories of connections made through playing 5asideCHESS. Grandparents teaching grandchildren how to play (and sometimes vice versa), homeless people on the streets playing passers-by and in the process becoming more visible to those that would normally look away, couples connecting over a game in a bar rather than staring separately at their phones, people who don’t even share the same language sharing a game. The list goes on.”
Keep up to date
If you’d like to find out more about the tour on social media and help Ross and the 5asideCHESS team to tackle mental health problems, check out the links below.