‘Happy to Chat’ benches are being introduced across North East Lincolnshire as part of NAViGO’s plans to get people talking and reduce social isolation.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is loneliness and its consequences, with a focus on encouraging people to reach out to one another.

We're using the week to introduce the first of our chat benches, with others coming across the borough throughout the summer.

The initiative aims to encourage conversation among strangers by providing benches with attached signage which suggests anyone sitting there is happy to share friendly chat or meet new people.

Service information has also been included should anyone need to contact us as the professional mental health services provider in North East Lincolnshire.

NAViGO Chief Executive Simon Beeton said: “We thought this was a good way to support people in getting talking, meeting each other and connecting with the wider community.

“We initially wanted to introduce them just as the coronavirus pandemic struck so it’s lovely to be able to finally start the ball rolling – it’s something especially needed after such a rough couple of years.

“Whatever your age and whoever you are, stopping for a chat can really brighten someone’s day or lead to a new friendship.”

Chief executive Simon Beeton sat on a Chat Bench

‘Happy to chat’ benches have sprung up around the world as a simple way to let people know they’re open to having a conversation.

They also continue the good work of local inspiration Kenneth Lee who promoted and installed several benches across Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

We will continue introducing the benches over the coming months.

While there are things we can do to support our own health and wellbeing, we're keen to stress that we offer a variety of services providing professional advice, guidance and therapy.

Anyone struggling with their mental health can telephone 01472 256256 option 3, Freephone 08081 968442, text ORANGE to 85258 or find more help online.