Anchor celebrates 700th Chatty Bench installation at historic Bolton Abbey

Coinciding with National Loneliness Week, Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of care and housing for people in later life, is celebrating the installation of its 700th Chatty Bench at the historic landmark Bolton Abbey near Skipton, Yorkshire.

The Chatty Benches initiative was created to encourage people to get talking face to face, to help reduce loneliness and social isolation.

This is particularly important as new research from Anchor highlights that nearly a quarter (23%) of people across the UK frequently feel lonely, rising to a third (33%) amongst people aged 16-34. Over the last winter alone, 37% of the nation admitted to feeling lonely.

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With 81% of people agreeing it is important that no one in our society is left feeling isolated and three-quarters (76%) believing that interacting with people from different generations is important, Anchor’s Chatty Benches initiative provides a meaningful solution.

Local residents and Bolton Abbey season ticket holders Elizabeth Henson and Rodger HaighLocal residents and Bolton Abbey season ticket holders Elizabeth Henson and Rodger Haigh
Local residents and Bolton Abbey season ticket holders Elizabeth Henson and Rodger Haigh

By sitting on one of the Chatty Benches, adorned with vibrant and colourful signs, a person signals they are open to striking up a conversation with whomever joins them. With an incredible 700 benches now located across the country from Leeds to Brighton to the Westfield London shopping centre, the initiative has proved hugely popular and provides lots of opportunities for conversations to start and new friendships to blossom. The latest sight, Bolton Abbey, is located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and overlooks the banks of the River Wharfe. The estate includes the ruins of the 12th century Priory as well as beautiful views of the nearby countryside and many woodland nature trails to explore too.

Sarah Jones, Chief Executive of Anchor says: “We know that loneliness is an increasingly big problem in today’s society, for people of all ages and from all walks of life. We want to create spaces where people can connect face-to-face again, whether this is just for a quick chat or the beginning of a real connection. The popularity of the initiative so far shows how much people want and need this. We hope that more and more places around the UK will consider installing their own Chatty Bench and help us to grow the movement!"

Helen Snowden, a trustee of the ‘Friends Of’ group for St Ann’s Well Gardens in Brighton & Hove has already seen what a wonderful impact the benches can have after the installation of one at the site. She says: “The Chatty Benches help people make friends, and to not be lonely. A little chat can make your day that bit better. I've seen loneliness wreak havoc on individuals' well-being, its effects rivalling those of chronic diseases. Through the Chatty Bench, we want to help combat loneliness and build strong community bonds.”

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The 2 new benches at Bolton Abbey have been decorated by a local artist to create an attractive and inspiring place to sit and have a chat. The installation reflects the Abbey’s team’s desire to support visitors’ and colleagues’ mental health and create a welcoming environment for all.

As the warmer, lighter months are now upon us, the Anchor Chatty Benches provide a space for everyone, regardless of age, to come together and connect in a meaningful way.

And the momentum for the initiative isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon, with more benches being installed in new locations in the coming weeks.

Moira Smith, Visit Experience and Marketing Manager, says: “The Anchor initiative is a lovely idea and we’re pleased to support it by creating the opportunity for our visitors to rest a while and say hello. Over the years, many visitors have formed friendships with others who they have met on a walk or chatted with over coffee. If we can facilitate others to build similar friendships, then we are delighted to do so.”

To find out more about the Chatty Benches initiative visit: Chatty benches | Anchor