Haringey Parks launch ‘Happy to Chat’ benches to combat loneliness

Happy To Chat benches are being piloted in four Haringey parks across the borough in an initiative being led by Haringey Reach and Connect and Haringey Council.

In a bid to raise awareness about loneliness and foster social connections, Haringey Council has partnered with Haringey Reach and Connect and Haringey Walks to introduce ‘Happy to Chat’ benches in four Haringey parks. This initiative, inspired by the original bench created by Allison Owen-Jones in Cardiff, is part of a pilot project spearheaded by the Haringey Reach and Connect team. 

The benches have been installed in Bruce Castle Park, Chestnuts Park, Russell Park, and Priory Park as a highlight of Haringey Reach and Connect’s activities for the upcoming Loneliness Awareness Week, taking place 10 to 16 June. This year's theme is ‘Random Acts of Connection’, aiming to encourage spontaneous social interactions. 

This initiative highlights the importance of parks as social spaces, particularly for older individuals who might find it more challenging to connect with others. The Happy to Chat benches aim to bridge this gap, providing opportunities for conversation and community building. 

By fostering these connections, Haringey Reach and Connect hopes to reduce loneliness and strengthen community ties, making parks more inclusive and welcoming spaces for all residents. 

The launch dates of the benches are aligned with Haringey Walks programs to encourage participation from those already engaged in park activities: 

  • Friday, 7th June at 11:30 AM – Bruce Castle Park 

  • Wednesday, 12th June at 12:00 PM – Priory Park 

  • Friday, 14th June at 11:30 AM – Chestnuts Park 

  • Wednesday, 12th June at 2.30 PM – Russell Park 

This pilot project could expand, with more benches placed in additional Haringey parks based on the success of the initial installations. 

The Reach and Connect team are keen to gather feedback on the new benches to help evaluate the pilot. We’re interested in hearing about users' experiences, including whether the benches bring about social interactions, their comfort, and the suitability of their locations. Suggestions for additional parks to host these benches are also welcome. 

Residents are encouraged to send their comments and questions to parks.volunteering@haringey.gov.uk