‘Happy to Chat’ bench more than just back support

In a bid to tackle social isolation, residents of Albany are being encouraged to talk to one another and create supportive connections with the help of the ‘Happy to Chat’ bench.

WA Primary Health Alliance has partnered with the City of Albany to implement the ‘Happy to Chat’ bench project where seats around Albany will be branded to encourage people to stop and say hello to each other.

It comes off the back of the recently launched Compassionate Communities Charter, with the benches providing a safe and convenient place for those feeling lonely to sit and let others know they welcome a chat from passers-by.

The ‘Happy to Chat’ bench encourages people to create supportive connections.

WA Primary Health Alliance Regional Manager Lesley Pearson said the ‘Happy to Chat’ bench showed how easy, but important it was to create a safe and inviting place for people to talk.

“This exemplifies the spirit of the Compassionate Communities project and the commitment from the Department of Transport as landowner to support the wellbeing of the local community and provide their bench for this initiative,” she said.

City of Albany’s Executive Director Community Services Susan Kay said the initiative was one way the community could help combat a loneliness epidemic affecting one-in-four Australians.

“Social isolation is an issue we can all help to fight by making sure we are inclusive, encouraging positive conversations and showing our compassion as a community,” Ms Kay said.

“By providing a platform for people to support one another and offer genuine connection we can increase compassion and empathy, reducing the rate of loneliness and boosting the level of healthy conversation that happens in our community.”

The first ‘Happy to Chat’ bench is opposite the boat pens near Albany Entertainment Centre and Due South, and has a plaque identifying its purpose.

The City of Albany is seeking suitable locations for more ‘Happy to Chat’ benches as part of the ongoing project with WA Primary Health Alliance.