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'Happy to Chat' benches in Easter Ross set to bring people together and help improve mental health and wellbeing as Tain and District Development Trust marketing officer inspired by concept


By Hector MacKenzie

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Rachel Cunningham at the bench in Tain.
Rachel Cunningham at the bench in Tain.

Benches across the Easter Ross Peninsula are inviting people to stop and chat and help break down the barriers of social isolation.

As part of an initiative to improve health and wellbeing across communities the 'Happy to Chat' benches will carry the message to stop and say hello.

Rachel Cunningham, marketing officer at Tain and District Development Trust, saw the idea when she took part in the communities leading in tourism course with Social Enterprise Academy Scotland.

Simply stopping to say hello to someone at a 'Happy to Chat’ bench could make a huge difference to vulnerable people in the community. – Rachel Cunningham

She said: “We took a virtual tour to Callander and I just thought it was an immensely powerful but simple message. I wanted to introduce it to the Easter Ross Penninsula. Easter Ross Peninsula ever since that moment.

“It is so important for communities and our visitors to feel that they are not alone. Simply stopping to say hello to someone at a 'Happy to Chat’ bench could make a huge difference to vulnerable people in the community.”

The bench in Tain
The bench in Tain

According to research, public benches can help improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

They are often used as a stopping place for those with limited mobility and can also help break down the barriers of social isolation and get people talking.

She said: “The first Happy to Chat bench has been designated in the grounds of the Collegiate Church in Tain, in collaboration with the Tain Museum. Signs are also due to be put on new fun multi- coloured bench, in a playpark in Balintore with our friends at the Seaboard Centre. We hope others will follow.”

“The initiative was made possible by money raised through our community events. If you or your community are interested in having a sign for a bench in your community on the peninsula we are happy to chat."

The bench in Tain is the first in a trailblazing initiative.
The bench in Tain is the first in a trailblazing initiative.

Get in touch at info@tainddtrust.com


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