Why ‘happy to chat’ benches are putting smiles on everyone’s faces
There may be a growing campaign in our resort called Stand Up For Southport – but in one part of town people are being urged to sit down.
If you walk through Ainsdale you will notice a series of ‘Happy To Chat’ signs on some of the benches, in a moving scheme dreamed up by Ainsdale Civic Society in a bid to combat loneliness – and put a smile on people’s faces.
A spokesperson said: “These have been designated as Chat Benches.
“The idea is to help to breakdown the invisible social barriers that exist between strangers who might find themselves sharing a common place.
“By stopping to say hello to someone at the chat bench could make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our community and help make life a little better for them.
“So please, if you see someone sitting on their own, just stop and say hello – you may be the first person they have spoken to in a while.”
The love is spreading around the rest of the village, with local businesses now taking part in the scheme too.
The spokesperson said: “All the bars, cafes and restaurants in our Village have agreed to have a ‘Natter & Chatter Table’ in their establishments.
“Please sit at one of these tables if you are on your own, or if you see someone else sitting there. “Let’s make sure that Ainsdale really is a friendly place to be and no one needs to be lonely.”
The idea has been met by a really warm reception from local people.
Kathleen Lewis said: “Brilliant idea.”
Speaking on the Ainsdale Civic Society Facebook page, she added: “I do it all the time and can usually strike up a conversation or a friendly smile even if sometimes they may think ‘who is this crazy lady’? It makes me feel happy too.”
Paul White said: “Yet another reason Ainsdale is the best place to live! Great idea!”
Peter Turner said: “What a great idea! And great to see local businesses getting involved as well!”
Andy Jackson said: “I really am so happy I moved into this village. Thank you to the organisers and those who have taken part in the community spirit, to facilitate it. Well done to you all.”
Marilyn Walmsley said: “What a lovely idea. There are lots of people who wouldn’t ask for help when they feel lonely but now they can pass the time of day and feel part of the community.