New 'Happy to Chat' benches have been installed in the city centre and parks to tackle loneliness in Salisbury.

Six benches in Salisbury have had a 'Happy to Chat' plaque fixed to the backrest, to make them easily identifiable.

A joint venture between Wiltshire Council’s Salisbury Area Board and Salisbury City Council, the benches aim to promote mental wellbeing.

The aim is to encourage people to stop from a chat and encourage conversations between people of all ages and communities.

There are three ‘Happy to Chat’ benches in the city centre - on Blue Boar Row, High Street, and just off Crane Street near the The Salisbury Orangery - as well as in three parks - Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Churchill Gardens and Victoria Park.

Mayor of Salisbury Caroline Corbin said that the benches are important after many months of Covid lockdowns: “Over the last 18 months, so many of our city residents have either been shielding or been wary of coming out of their homes.

"The ‘Happy to Chat’ benches give people a chance and a reason to talk, which is proven to help ease stress and reduce anxiety.

“The benches provide everyone with an opportunity to take a little time out, meet someone new and gain insight into other people's experiences.

"Everyone has a story to tell and taking just 10 minutes to share with someone might just be the highlight of their day.”

Salisbury Area Board Chair, Cllr Brian Dalton said: “The ‘Happy to Chat’ bench concept is very simple, but we need the community’s help to make it work.

"Each bench has a welcoming sign on it that reads: ‘A Happy to Chat Bench: Sit Here If You Don’t Mind Someone Stopping To Say Hello’.

"I hope the signs help break down the invisible social barriers that sometimes exist between people who are sharing the common space of a bench.

"Making the effort to stop and say hello could make a huge positive difference to both your and their day.”

Cllr Simon Jacobs, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Area Boards, added: “Covid has had a big impact on the wellbeing of people so hopefully these benches can help provide that interaction that people have missed.

"With the benches being outdoors it means it’s much more safe for people to talk to each other with the fresh air and the ability for people to socially distance comfortably.”

For a map of the location of the benches, visit the Experience Salisbury website here.



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