Altrincham residents get a ‘Happy to Chat’ bench to combat loneliness

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A community group has raised funds for a ‘Happy to Chat’ bench to be installed in Timperley village.

The bench invites people to either say hello as they pass by or stop for a conversation.

On it, a sign reads: “Happy to chat bench. Sit here if you don’t mind someone stopping to say hello.”

People who choose to sit on the bench will be signalling to others that they are up for a chat or are willing to listen to and engage with others in their community.

It is a novel idea that aims to help combat the growing problems of loneliness in our communities.

The bench in Timperley will join another already installed in Altrincham.

But this is not unique to Manchester, Altrincham, or even the UK. Happy to Chat benches have been popping up all over the world in far-flung corners like Kiev in Ukraine and Vancouver in Canada.

Loneliness is more pronounced in elderly people, but it affects everyone in our community to some degree. From the new mum who may have not spoken to another adult all day, to students in a new city.

The Happy to Chat bench aims to break down social barriers and help us forge new connections in our communities.

The bench will be unveiled next month on Saturday 29th February in Timperley village.

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