Happy to Chat Benches
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (10 -16 May) and this year the theme is ‘Nature’. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the theme was chosen following research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic which showed that going for walks outside was one of the key top coping strategies for mental health while wildlife watching increased by over 2000%.
Silloth Green has played an important role during the pandemic and has provided an open space where people can get outdoors, get some fresh air, whilst maintaining a safe distance from others. After receiving a request from Simon McCall, ICC Living Well Coach at Silloth Group Medical Practice, the Town Council were only too happy to agree to allocate two of our benches on Silloth Green as Happy to Chat benches.
“Social isolation and loneliness have been shown to be as detrimental to health as smoking, and following the restrictions we’ve all faced over the past year more people than ever are now experiencing this. A number of my patients have reported that being in lockdown or shielding means that they’ve got out of the habit of just talking to people and have lost the confidence to strike up a conversation.
‘Happy to Chat’ benches are successfully helping communities to tackle isolation and loneliness in towns and cities all over the UK, and as far afield as Kiev, Vancouver and New York. For people who feel isolated, the benches are an opportunity to make a connection with someone new, and for people who want to help those experiencing loneliness the benches provide an opportunity to do so.
Sitting on the benches simply signals to others that you’re up for a chat and is an open invitation to say ‘hello’ and strike up a conversation…and simply saying ‘hello’ could make more difference to someone’s wellbeing than you will ever know.”