Specially colored benches have been installed in three locations across Southampton in an effort to encourage conversation and combat loneliness. The benches, wrapped in red and white for Time to Talk Day, provide a social space where individuals who are feeling lonely or struggling with their mental health can engage in conversations with others in the community. The Lord Mayor of Southampton, councillor Valerie Lambert, unveiled one of the benches at St James’ Park in Shirley, with the other two benches located at Riverside Park in Bitterne Park and the Miller’s Pond conservation area in Sholing.
Sue Kinch, events and social media coordinator at Friends of St James’ Park, expressed her hope that people would be open to utilizing these benches as a means of connecting with others. She emphasized the power of a simple smile and hello in brightening someone’s day and encouraged the community to come together to combat loneliness and foster communication. Kinch also praised the collaboration between local organizations, highlighting it as a fantastic example of Southampton institutions working together for the benefit of the community.
To support these benches, a dedicated web page hosted by SoLinked has been created, along with a QR code that allows individuals to leave comments and feedback on the spaces. This additional online platform aims to further facilitate communication and engagement among users of the benches.
Time to Talk Day, organized by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in partnership with Co-op, promotes the creation of supportive communities through conversations about mental health with family, friends, and colleagues. By providing these colored benches as a visual cue and social space, Southampton hopes to encourage individuals to reach out and engage in meaningful discussions about mental health and well-being.
Overall, this initiative in Southampton highlights the importance of creating spaces for conversation and connection within the community. By placing these specially colored benches in public areas, the project aims to combat loneliness and provide support for those struggling with their mental health. Through collaboration between local organizations and the utilization of a dedicated web page, individuals are encouraged to engage in dialogue and share their experiences. Time to Talk Day serves as a reminder of the significance of open conversations about mental health and the positive impact they can have on individuals and communities.