East Belfast Gets Chatty
Twenty Chatty Benches have been installed across East Belfast creating a safe space to chat and stay connected.
The colourful benches have popped up in locations right across the east of the city, in partnership with 19 local community organisations.
The new project led by East Belfast Community Development Agency, and funded by The Executive Office, Communities in Transition, the East Belfast Health and Wellbeing programme and the Public Health Agency, aims to keep communities connected, encouraging people to have meaningful conversations and build emotional resilience.
Commenting on the launch earlier this month, Linda Armitage, Health Development Director, East Belfast Community Development Agency said: “We are proud to lead the roll out of the chatty bench programme across east Belfast. Coming out of the pandemic, there are so many layers of anxiety and isolation affecting people in our local communities. Coming together has never been so important and these benches are a physical reminder of that.
“Through this initiative, and our ongoing engagement, we are encouraging community organisations and residents right across East Belfast to keep connecting, and to be creative in how they promote and practice positive health and wellbeing.”
Marie Anne Templeman, Health Connections Coordinator East Belfast Community Development Agency said “It’s wonderful to see what started out as an idea pre-pandemic, become a reality. We are encouraged that so many organisations across east Belfast have taken up the opportunity to be part of the chatty bench programme; together we can help to provide a space for people to come to together.”
Janine Layton from one of the community groups involved, Ulster Tower Street Community Development Community Association talked about the benefits for her group and wider community “With the addition of the bench we have been able to do more intergenerational work as it is used for old and young. The bench is also much more accessible for anyone with mobility issues than the picnic table we used to have. It is great for people to have somewhere to gather and sit with a cup of tea and have a chat. Having a Chatty Bench and somewhere to meet others helps users to feel part of the community and less lonely. We have a motto ‘Be the reason someone smiles today’ and the Chatty bench is helping us do that.”
For further information contact Marie@ebcda.org
Chatty Benches are situated in the following locations across East Belfast:
- Ardcarn Main Green, BT5 (Ardcarn Residents Group)
- Bloomfield Community Association
- East Belfast Alternatives
- East Belfast Mission
- East Belfast Network Centre
- East Belfast Sure Start
- EastSide Greenways
- EastSide Learning
- Greenway Womens Centre
- Inverary Community Centre
- Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
- Megain Memorial Church of the Nazarene
- Oasis Caring in Action
- Short Strand Community Centre
- Survivors of Suicide Support Group Garden (x 2)
- The Larder
- Ulster Tower Street CDA
- Walkway Community Association
- Willowfield Parish Church