May 12, 2022 6.00 am

New ‘Happy to Chat’ benches encourage speaking out for mental health

“Stopping for a chat can really brighten someone’s day”

‘Happy to Chat’ benches are being installed across North East Lincolnshire, encouraging conversation between people to reduce social isolation.

The new initiative by NAViGO is designed to encourage strangers to stop and share friendly chats in North East Lincolnshire, as well as meeting new people and getting everyone back used to social interaction post-COVID.

The first benches have been installed across the borough, with more coming this summer, and they come with attached signage to suggest that anyone sat at the bench is willing to share a chat.

As well as this, the signage also contains contact information for professional mental health services provider NAViGO, designed to offer support to those who wish to reach out for help.

It fits in line with this year’s theme of loneliness for May’s Mental Health Awareness Week, focusing on helping people reach out to one another about their feelings and emotions.

NAViGO chief executive Simon Beeton said: “We thought this was a good way to support people in getting talking, meeting each other and connecting with the wider community.

“We initially wanted to introduce them just as the coronavirus pandemic struck so it’s lovely to be able to finally start the ball rolling – it’s something especially needed after such a rough couple of years.

“Whatever your age and whoever you are – stopping for a chat can really brighten someone’s day or lead to a new friendship.”