A new ‘Chat Bench’ initiative launched on Burnham-On-Sea seafront by local Police in a bid to tackle isolation among vulnerable people is spreading around the world.

The concept was first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com and has since been followed up by media outlets internationally where similar schemes are being planned.

A TV news crew from America has been in Burnham this week, pictured here, recording a feature about the aims of the chat bench near the Bay View Cafe on The Esplanade.

Sgt Ashley Jones from Burnham Police, pictured, said: “The chat bench concept is so simple but it has has really caught on and the idea has spread widely since it was first covered by Burnham-On-Sea.com.”

“We’ve had a US TV news crew in Burnham this week covering it and we have also had reports on Radio Switzerland, Germany’s main TV station, several American newspapers, and ABC Australia in Melbourne.”

Simply stopping to say ‘hello’ to someone sat at the ‘Chat Bench’ can make a huge difference to vulnerable people, he says.

“Everyone loves the idea that something so simple can help to address underlying issues of loneliness and vulnerability.”

PCSO Tracey Grobbeler, who unveiled the first chat bench on the town’s seafront, recently told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The Chat Bench is a very simple concept — 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!”


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