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Mid and East Antrim welcome its first ‘Chatty Bench’

Pictured (L-R) is Jackie Waide, Parks Supervisor; Mayor Councillor Peter Johnston; Yvonne Carson, Northern Health and Social Care Trust; Marjorie Hawkins, Chair of the Loneliness Network and Paul Mawhinney, Parks Manager.

Mid and East Antrim’s Loneliness Network are thrilled to launch its first ‘Chatty Bench’ in the borough.

Located in the beautiful surroundings of Shaftsbury Park, Carrickfergus just off the Marine Highway, this brightly painted yellow bench has been introduced to provide a place for people to come together to have a chat.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said:

“The ‘Chatty Benches’ initiative is one of many that aims to engage people in activities to minimise their sense of isolation. “The ethos behind it is to encourage anyone who wants to engage in conversation with someone to sit down on the bench and just have a chat. There is also a plaque on the bench with a unique QR code on it, which residents can scan to access information on the Loneliness Network.

“I am delighted to see the bench placed in my home town of Carrickfergus and look ahead with anticipation for others to follow in the Larne and Ballymena areas soon.”

Sabrina Lynn from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust says:

“One in three people in Northern Ireland are likely to experience feelings of loneliness in their lifetime (NISRA). Throughout this difficult year of lockdown, isolation and restrictions on our social activities, human contact has been limited which has impacted upon our mental health. The challenges the pandemic has created in terms of creating loneliness in communities is something that the Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network aims to tackle.”

Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network Chairperson Marjorie Hawkins said:

“We recognise that everyone is likely to experience some feelings of loneliness in their lifetime. Often seen as a problem faced traditionally by older people, loneliness is a different kind of pandemic that is also non- discriminatory and can be detrimental to many lives. Tackling this is a mission that we are deeply committed to.”

Yvonne Carson, Thematic Lead for Loneliness, Northern Health and Social Care Trust stated:

“Chatty Benches are designed to help tackle loneliness and support positive mental health within the community. We hope this ‘Chatty Bench’ will be seen as a place for people to come together to chat and connect.”


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