20 July 2024

A little more conversation: ‘Happy to Chat’ benches come to the city

Six ‘Happy to Chat’ benches have been installed across Salisbury’s city centre and parks.

Over the past 18 months, we have all missed a good old chit chat – whether it’s a catch-up over a cup of tea or a natter with a passerby. From today, people from all generations are being invited to stop for a chat and a smile on one of Salisbury’s new ‘Happy to Chat’ benches.

The project from Salisbury Area Board and Salisbury City Council aims to tackle loneliness, break down social barriers, and improve the wellbeing of residents.

A ‘Happy to Chat’ bench in the Market Place

The Mayor of Salisbury, Caroline Corbin said: “Over the last 18 months, so many of our city residents have either been shielding or been wary of coming out of their homes. The ‘Happy to Chat’ benches give people a chance and a reason to talk, which is proven to help ease stress and reduce anxiety.

“The benches provide everyone with an opportunity to take a little time out, meet someone new, and gain insight into other peoples’ experiences. Everyone has a story to tell and taking just 10 minutes to share with someone, might just be the highlight of their day.”

“The ‘Happy to Chat’ bench concept is very simple, but we need the community’s help to make it work. Each bench has a welcoming sign on it that reads: ‘A Happy to Chat Bench: Sit Here If You Don’t Mind Someone Stopping To Say Hello’.

“I hope the signs help break down the invisible social barriers that sometimes exist between people who are sharing the common space of a bench. Making the effort to stop and say ‘hello’ could make a huge positive difference,” commented the Chair of Salisbury Area Board, Cllr Brian Dalton.

You can find a downloadable poster for businesses, community groups and individuals here, alongside a map showing the location of the benches.

Written by
Beth Doherty
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Written by Beth Doherty