17 November 2023
Chatty Benches: Anchor launches initiative in Westfield London to tackle loneliness in the community
On 15 November we celebrated the installation of ten of our Chatty Benches at Europe’s largest shopping centre, Westfield London.
By creating opportunities for people to spark conversations with others around them, the Chatty Benches initiative aims to reduce social isolation and foster a sense of community during the winter months and beyond.
The launch was marked with a celebration at the shopping centre, bringing together members of the local Shepherd’s Bush community, Anchor residents and colleagues, for a ribbon cutting and some lively conversations and laughs on the benches.
Our Chatty Benches provide an opportunity for communities to connect and get talking face to face. By sitting on one of these benches, adorned with vibrant and colourful signs, a person signals they are open to striking up a conversation with whomever joins them. In the run up to the festive period, the Westfield London benches will encourage Christmas shoppers to get chatting, while taking a well-earned rest.
Loneliness can peak during winter months, particularly for older people, and research conducted by Anchor in 2022 found that 33% of older people in Greater London often feel isolated. But importantly, the research showed there was a desire for this to change, as 55% of Londoners wish they could spend more time with different generations. The Chatty Benches provide a solution, encouraging people from different generations and backgrounds to connect in a free and accessible way.
The Chatty Benches at Westfield London are among 454 popping up across Anchor locations across the country.
Sarah Jones, Chief Executive of Anchor, says:
Our research shows that older people in Greater London can feel isolated, so installing Anchor Chatty Benches at Westfield London shopping centre is a great way to encourage people of all ages to connect and engage with others and improve their wellbeing. Nothing can replace the importance of human connection, particularly as we approach the winter months, so initiatives like this are more crucial than ever, creating more opportunities for people to get talking face to face to help combat loneliness and reduce social isolation.
Gurdeep Chadha, Resident at Anchor’s Denham Garden Village in Uxbridge, says:
I am the kind of person that will chat to anyone, I will always say hello. I am known for that in my village. If I am on my own and doing some shopping, I am hoping someone will see me on one of the Chatty Benches at Westfield and come and sit next to me and have a chat. I think it is particularly important to encourage members of the public to use the benches because if you are feeling down or lonely at home, you know that you can go and find a local bench and strike up a conversation to make you feel less lonely.
Laura Waters, General Manager at Westfield London, says:
We're proud to partner with Anchor in bringing the Chatty Benches to Westfield London. The centre has always been a hub for our community and we recognise the importance of fostering meaningful connections between people. The Chatty Benches will not only enhance the shopping experience but also serve as a welcoming space for people to come together, share stories and create lasting connections within our vibrant community.
To find out more about the Chatty Benches initiative visit here.