Some Towns in England Are Combatting Loneliness with “Chat Benches”

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In a world where we’re increasingly and constantly connected via the internet, many are finding that loneliness is definitely not a thing of the past.

In an effort to help people feel more connected, some English towns are giving what they call “chat benches” a try. And for good reason – one AARP study found that social isolation can pose similar risks to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.


Yahoo! reports that the police department of Burnham-On-Sea in southwest England has posted signs on a couple of park benches that read: “The ‘Happy to Chat’ Bench: Sit Here If You Don’t Mind Someone Stopping To Say Hello.”

They hope the benches will provide people who are feeling isolated the chance to connect with someone new. According to recent polls, more than a third of seniors report feeling a lack of companionship at least some of the time, with 27% admitting to feeling isolation more often than that.

The initiative was began with elderly people in mind, but officials urge residents of all ages to use the benches if they’re feeling in need of companionship.


“Simply stopping to say ‘hello’ to someone at the Chat Bench could make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our communities and help to make life a little better for them.”

People everywhere are looking for ways to encourage more interactions with and between seniors. In China, young people can live in some nursing homes in exchange for spending time with older residents, and adult playgrounds are becoming more common across Europe and the U.S.


The moral of the story seems to be, if you see someone – particularly someone older – who looks as if they could use a chat, stop and give them a few minutes of their time.

You never know the difference you could make!