Chester’s first ‘talking bench’ says “Hello”

01.12.2019

In a society that now seems to only talk to each other on a smart phone, the art of conversation is being brought back to Chester thanks to a new ‘talking bench.’

The new Hoole Way sunken garden has already been turned into a community area following the installation of the eco trees and local volunteers helping with the planting. New benches have been included to allow people to have a break, enjoy the garden and watch the world go by. Cheshire West and Chester Council’s localities team brought the idea of a ‘talking bench’ to life. It aims to encourage passers-by to stop and say hello to each other.

Chester resident, Linda Jones, joined a local community group, ‘Chatter Chairs’ several months ago, where she has been able to socialise and make new, long-lasting friends. Linda adds “The ‘talking bench’ is a great idea as I know there are so many people out there who feel lonely and may not have family living nearby. It’s a way to look out for your neighbours and brings communities together.”

Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Louise Gittins said: “The sign by the bench says it all; small talk can make a big difference. This area in the sunken garden is for anybody who fancies a chat. Not everyone is confident to start a conversation with someone they don’t know; our new bench is the ice-breaker.

“As the festive season approaches and residents are busy rushing around, please remember that there are many people across the borough who may feel lonely. Take some time to have a chat with family members, friends and neighbours as this can help to brighten up someone’s day.” Research by the British Red Cross and Co-Op in 2016, found over nine million people in the UK, almost a fifth of the population, saying they are always or often lonely, but almost two thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it. Age UK say 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom over 2 million are aged 75+ and that loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.