Happy to Chat Benches
Healthy Wexford are delighted to have brought the ‘Happy to Chat’ Bench initiative to Wexford. The ‘Happy to Chat’ Bench initiative started in Cardiff in 2019 and has since spread across the world. The benches identify that someone is open to engagement and benches around the world carry the same sign: ‘Happy to chat bench. Sit here if you don't mind someone stopping to say hello’. The benches are effectively an invitation to engage with a stranger and it is hoped that they will help to reduce loneliness and isolation in our county.
Specially commissioned, each County Wexford bench is three metres in length to allow for engagement in a socially distanced way. They include a ‘Happy to Chat’ sign and have distinctive Healthy Ireland colouring to help them stand out. Their design is in line with Age Friendly guidelines and include a one arm design to allow for wheelchair access.
With a focus on urban isolation, the initial phase saw five ‘Happy to Chat’ benches delivered in March 2021, for placement in the five main towns across the county, Wexford, Gorey, Enniscorthy, New Ross and Bunclody. These benches were funded under the Keep Well campaign. With the positive response, phase two saw the initiative extending to Ballycogley, Courtown, Ferns and Bridgetown, through a combination of Keep Well and Wexford County Council funding. Two further benches are planned for placement in early 2022, supported by Wexford County Council.