SCLT Charity Launch 'Chat Bench' Scheme to Alleviate Loneliness
June is an important month for highlighting some of the darker issues associated with swiftly ageing population. June 15th is the annual observance of United Nations World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is closely followed by UK Loneliness Awareness Week, which is observed 17th - 21st June.
These important events allow us to take stock of our elder community and to reflect upon the challenges and issues caused by this demographic of our population. Remarkably the UK can now boast around 12-million citizens over the age of 65-years. This amounts to the entire population of every man, woman and child currently living in the country of Belgium.
Sadly there are a growing number of criminals who seek to take advantage of our senior community and exploit the frailty that comes with older age to steal from and deceive them. Older people can be more vulnerable to cons and fraud, doorstep crime, distraction burglary and online/telephone scams.
17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week. This isolation can leave people more vulnerable. We can all make a difference by just saying hello and keeping an eye on our neighbours. Not only will it reduce loneliness and perhaps mean they have spoken to someone that day, but it can reduce the likelihood of them being victims of crime.
One initiative that the Senior Citizen Liaison Team Charity hope will help to tackle isolation and solitude within the community is the introduction of a ‘Chat Bench’ in a number of town, villages and cities in our area of operatios. Already benches are operating in Taunton, Weston-super-Mare, Wellington, Burnham-on-Sea and Wells, with new sites coming on-line on a daily basis.
SCLT volunteer is the architect of the new scheme and has been travelling around the region to help set up the benches.
Ash commented: “The Chat Bench is a very simple concept, where a sign is placed on a bench, typically in a park or a town centre, in a location used by a good cross-section of the community. The sign is then used to encourage those using the bench to have a chat with each other– it’s as simple as that!
“The sign simply helps to break down the invisible, social barriers that exists between strangers who find themselves sharing a common place. We can all play a part in keeping our communities safe. Simply stopping to say ‘hello’ to someone at the Chat Bench could make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our communities and help to make life a little better for them.
This isn't anything new, schemes similiar to this have been around for years, but we hope using the elderly safety focus period of JUne will be a sound platform to launch this initiative in our areas of operation and ultimately we will make a dent in the loneliness epidemic that is sweeping the UK at the moment”
Ash used UN Elder Abuse Awareness Day to lauch a social media campaign to raise awareness of the scheme and to suggest that people consider adopting a chat bench in their area.
See his video below or click here: VIDEO
Chat Bench in the City of Wells