The Police & Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, Sue Mountstevens, visited Burnham-On-Sea this week to find out more about its Chat Bench scheme.

She visited the world-famous chat bench – which aims to help tackle loneliness – on The Esplanade near the Tourist Information Centre with the Police Force’s Det Sergeant Ashley Jones, who introduced it last year.

The simple concept involves placing a sign on a bench in a public space to encourage those using the bench to chat with one another. The initiative was originally started on World Elder Abuse Day in June last year and since then the benches have made headlines across the globe.

Sergeant Ashley Jones, who started the initiative, joined the PCC and Sedgemoor District Council Chairman Cllr Peter Clayton at the chat bench to speak to local people on Monday.

Speaking about the chat benches, PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “It is a fantastic new initiative that I hope encourages those of all ages to start many more conversations in the future.”

Ashley, who received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours, told “Sue’s top priority for the police is to protect the vulnerable within the community from harm and this has been at the forefront of the inception of the Chat Bench initiative, which was launched in Burnham in Spring 2019 as a response to United Nations World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.”

“The Chat Bench is a very simple initiative that encourages the adoption of community benches as places where lonely and isolated individuals may join each other for a chat.”


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