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Call made for 'chat benches' in Newtown

 
Created on 07/11/2019 @ 07:33
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Chat benches should be set up in Newtown to help tackle loneliness and isolation among residents in the town.

The call has come from one of the town's care providers who said similar schemes elsewhere in the country have made a difference to people.

Abacare says benches should be set up where people are encouraged to sit and chat to others who might not meet other people regularly, such as the elderly.
 
‘Chat benches’ have been set up across Somerset by Avon and Somerset Police to help spark conversation between people and Abacare says the idea would work in Wales too.
 
Jane Jones, Branch Manager at Abacare in Newtown and which provides care in the surrounding areas, said: “Loneliness and isolation is an epidemic across England and Wales, but it’s small initiatives such as the ‘chat benches’ that can really help towards tackling the problem.
 
“The benches in Somerset display a ‘happy to chat’ sign so people wishing to chat to others simply sit on the bench and wait for someone to join them, or if they see someone already on the bench, they can sit there too and strike up a conversation.

"The benches are a fantastic idea, especially for the elderly who often live alone and sometimes don’t speak to friends, neighbours or families for weeks at a time.
 
“This idea would allow them to potentially make new friends, get to know people in the area and generally just have some interaction with others, so we’re calling on the local council and police force to help bring the idea to Wales too. We’d love to see similar benches around the country and if they are implemented, our staff will certainly volunteer to sit and chat with people in their communities.”
 
The number of people aged 50 plus experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/26 according to the Campaign to End Loneliness. There are currently 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK.
 
The recent National Survey for Wales showed that 17% of people in Wales were lonely and 54% of people experienced some feelings of loneliness.
 
Jane added: “Elderly people are the most at risk of social isolation and it can leave them feeling cut off from the outside world.
 
“Many of our service users are elderly and live alone so to combat potential social isolation we encourage our carers to chat with them and be a friend. Before designating a carer to a service user we can make sure both of their personalities match up, giving the service user someone they can trust and get on with on a daily basis.
 
“We believe providing emotional care is just as important as the physical and we are doing our upmost to make sure our service users don’t feel lonely or isolated.
 
“It is an advantage if our care workers have some similar interests to our service users so they have something in common and something they can talk about on a regular basis. We want our service users to feel completely comfortable in their own homes and to consider their carer as a friend.”
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