‘Happy to Chat Benches’, Waterford, Source: Waterford City & County Council

‘Happy to Chat Benches’ tackle loneliness in Waterford

‘Happy to Chat Benches’ tackle loneliness in Waterford

The initiative is part of the Big Little Ideas campaign which channels public participation in the recovery of the Irish city and county

Apart from its impact on human health and economic performance, the coronavirus pandemic is doing a far more irreparable damage – by depriving people of face-to-face communication. And most affected again are the vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly. 

But sometimes a small concept can make a big difference, say the proponents of ‘Happy to Chat Benches’ initiative. It will be officially launched on 1 October as part of the celebrations to mark the Day of the Older Person in Waterford – the oldest city in Ireland dating back to 911 AD. 

‘Happy to Chat Benches’, which have already sprung up across Europe, help tackle loneliness and isolation in the community, by breaking down the invisible wall between strangers who might be sitting side by side but are shy to start a conversation. The underlying conviction is that simply stopping to say "hello" to someone at the ‘Chat Bench’ could mean much to the vulnerable people in communities.

Little ideas with huge impact 

Submitted by local property broker Deirdre Phelan, ‘Happy to Chat Benches’ is one of the initiatives in the Big Little Ideas campaign which tries to engage the public in Waterford’s recovery. The campaign is actively promoted by Waterford City & County Council, Waterford Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders. 

“We have seen wonderful creativity through the Big Little Ideas Campaign”, said Waterford Chamber of Commerce President Danette Connolly, quoted by “These benches are just the one of many initiatives to come to fruition and if they will make life that little bit easier for just one person, particularly in these difficult times, then they can only be a good thing. We must remind people to respect the initiative, use it appropriately and of course maintain social distancing and HSE guidelines.”



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