'Happy to Chat Bench' unveiled in Fleetwood in bid to ease loneliness

A town centre bench aimed at combating social loneliness and isolation has been unveiled.

The Happy to Chat Bench is in Lord Street, outside the grounds of St Peter’s Church. It has been labelled up to let people know what it is for and is ready to become a place where people can sit and have a chat, listen to others and break down barriers which can leave vulnerable people feeling alone.

Helen Simey and Caroline Murray

Helen Simey and Caroline Murray

Designed to encourage people to simply talk, the Happy to Chat Bench was the brainchild of Caroline Murray and the Fleetwood women’s community group SASS.

Caroline was visiting family in Burnham-on-Sea when she came across the town’s own happy bench.

She said: “I knew that this could be something SASS could work on. In Burnham-on-Sea it was police initiative and it had made such an impact.” Together with Helen Simey, founder of SASS - an online group, they approached Wyre Council to see if something similar could be implemented in Fleetwood.

Helen said: “Putting something good in the community is what it’s all about. We hope the bench will help everyone, young people as well as elderly people, to initiate conversation while out shopping.

Caroline added: “It’s a safe place to chat, it’s lovely for Fleetwood.”