The Talking Bench: Sit down, say hello and have a nice chat

'If someone was having a bad day, or can’t find a friend to talk to, it's there for people'

Sunday, 17th July — By Frankie Lister-Fell

talking bench primrose hill

The bench in Chalcot Square

A “TALKING bench” which aims to connect neighbours and combat loneliness has been installed in Primrose Hill.

Sitting on the bench in Chalcot Square indicates to passers-by that they can join you for a chinwag.

The Happy To Talk initiative was instigated by Swiss Cottage artist Oliver Chan, 35, who said he had felt lonely during the Covid lockdowns.

Although there have been “pop-up” benches around Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill, the new bench is the first permanent one.

Oliver Chan

“Since the pandemic and especially after lockdown, loneliness has gotten worse, so I came up with something to bring people together,” Mr Chan said.

“If someone was having a bad day, or can’t find a friend to talk to, it’s there for people.”

He hopes to get another bench installed in Belsize village.

The Office for National Statistics found that 7.2 per cent of adults aged over 16 in Camden felt lonely “often or always” when surveyed between October 2020 and February 2021.

Town Hall health chief Councillor Anna Wright said: “These benches are a simple, but great way to help tackle loneliness.”

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