New ‘Happy to Chat’ benches have been installed in different parts of an East Suffolk Community Partnership area to encourage residents to speak to each other in an effort to tackle social isolation and loneliness.
The new scheme has been funded by the Kesgrave, Rushmere St Andrew, Martlesham, Carlford and Fynn Valley Community Partnership to help break down the barriers of starting a new conversation and encourage people to start talking to one another in the hope that it will help tackle social isolation and loneliness.
The benches, which will be identifiable with ‘Happy to Chat’ plaques donated by Healthwatch Suffolk, will be places where people can do just that – sit and chat. It is hoped that it will help create community connections and strengthen support systems, which in turn can lead to a decrease in loneliness and social isolation, particularly. The benches can be used by anyone, of any age, and will promote simple acts of kindness that could make a difference to people who might be living alone and needing human contact.
Seven benches have now been installed as part of the scheme in Martlesham Heath, Grundisburgh, Swilland/Witnesham, Great Bealings, Charsfield and Rushmere St Andrew village.
Nicole Rickard, Head of Communities at East Suffolk Council, said: “We’re really pleased to be introducing this new scheme as we know the simple act of talking to somebody can have a very positive impact on the wellbeing of someone who is struggling with social isolation and/or loneliness. Simply stopping to say hello to someone at a ‘Happy to Chat’ bench could make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our communities and help to make life a little better for them.”