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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

New ‘Chatty Bench’ for Antrim Castle Gardens

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb launches the new Chatty Bench at Antrim Castle Gardens. He is pictured with Valerie Adams, Chair of the Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network.

To mark Loneliness Awareness Week, Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network are delighted to launch a second “Chatty Bench” within the Borough. The bench, which is located in the Castle Gardens in Antrim, will provide a further place for people to come together for a chat.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network brings together the Council and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, alongside others in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors.

The Network aims to raise awareness of loneliness, share best practice and learning on ways to prevent and address loneliness, and encourage championing of tackling loneliness across the Borough.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Billy Webb said:

“It’s great to have another Chatty Bench installed within the Borough. Our parks and open spaces play a hugely important role in supporting the physical and mental health of our residents and we hope the addition of this bench in Antrim Castle Gardens will go some way to addressing the issue of loneliness in the Borough. Everyone can experience loneliness at some point in their lives and to raise awareness of this growing issue and mark Loneliness Awareness Week we will also be lighting up our Civic buildings on Saturday 19 June.”

William Smyth from FOCUS said:

“The “buddy bench” is an initiative which has been led by the members of the FOCUS group who were supported by BBC Children In Need. FOCUS - Focusing On Community and Understanding Suicide is now in its ninth year and still going strong even though the past few years have been tough.”

“The group consists of young people aged 15-25 years old who come together, with the aim of raising suicide prevention and other issues affecting young people in our community. At FOCUS, we are keen to make contact with young people who are experiencing issues that are impacting upon their lives. Find us on Facebook @focusgroupantrim.”

Valerie Adams, Chairperson of the Antrim and NewtownabbeyLoneliness Network added:

“As Chair of the Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network I am delighted that a further Chatty Bench has been launched within the Borough. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the young people from FOCUS who were involved in this initiative, the Castle Gardensand Children in Need for providing that all important funding.”

“This has been a collaborative approach which highlights what can be achieved by working together. It is vitally important that we work in this way in order to continue to address the issue of isolation and loneliness across the Antrim and Newtownabbeyarea.”

Hugh Nelson from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, added:

“Loneliness can affect anyone from teenagers and young adults, new parents, carers and recently bereaved, to students, older people and those with disabilities. The impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated this issue for everyone and the launch of a furtherChatty Bench highlights the continued commitment to reach out to the local community during this difficult time.”

The Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network reminds everyone to be mindful of the Covid-19 guidelines in place when stopping for a chat.

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