Sit and Chat bench installed at Garey ny Cloie

An addition to a new wildflower area in the grounds of the Department of Environment Food and Agriculture will help friendships blossom.

A Sit and Chat bench has been installed at Garey ny Cloie (Gardens of Play), Foxdale Road, St John’s.

Sit and Chat benches and picnic tables were installed across the Island last year by Compassionate Isle of Man, a community initiative working within the auspices of Hospice Isle of Man.

Chat Benches were first introduced in the United Kingdom by Allison Owens-Jones as a way of letting people know they were open to chat.  

Recognisable by either their purple and yellow paint (on recycled benches) or as new hardwood benches with plaques, the Sit and Chat benches are places where people can sit if they wish to strike up a conversation with others, easing isolation. 

This new bench at DEFA is an initiative between Hospice Isle of Man and UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, which is located at DEFA.

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:

‘Garey ny Cloie is a beautiful place to visit and somewhere people come to find tranquillity and connect with nature.

 ‘The addition of the bench will benefit those visiting alone and seeking someone to chat to, briefly, to brighten their day. As we all get back out to enjoy the Island and seek to re-establish connections with others after lockdowns, I am sure it will be well used.’

This newly installed bench was commissioned on behalf of Manx Telecom by Isle of Man Newspapers, who have arranged for a cache of Sit and Chat benches to be placed around the Island with plaques to recognise their ‘In the Spirit of Community Kindness’ event partners. Manx Telecom were the lead sponsors for the campaign, and CEO Gary Lamb said the benches would provide a lasting reminder of the aims of the campaign.

'Never has there been a time in recent history when it was so important for people to work together for the sake of the community as when we went into lockdown.’

'With such a drastic change to our day-to-day lives there was a huge risk that many people, and especially the more vulnerable in our society, would become isolated. The Community Kindness campaign encouraged and recognised those who went out of their way for others and hopefully the benches will help foster that same generosity of spirit in the months and years to come.'

The ‘Spirit of Community Kindness’ event was organised by Isle of Man Newspapers and held last year at the Gaiety Theatre. Its aim was to celebrate the key workers and unsung heroes that supported our island community during the first lockdown. Each of the partners of the event will have a bench dedicated to them; Manx Telecom, Standard Bank, Keystone Law, Microgaming, PokerStars, Manx Co-op and Think Manx.’

Dan Williams, from Isle of Man Newspapers, said;

‘We are delighted to be able to thank the partners of our event by dedicating these benches to them, we hope the benches will help to continue to legacy of the campaign - and the kindness and compassion that has been shown by our community during the difficulties of the last 18 months.’

These benches have been carved and locally crafted by Peter Metcalf.

Wendy Smith, from Hospice Isle of Man, said:

’Simply stopping to say hello to someone at the Sit and Chat bench could make a huge difference. Lockdown has affected many people with restrictions such as shielding, social distancing, and self-isolation. We have an opportunity to promote simple acts of kindness that could make a difference to people feeling alone and needing human contact.’ 

To learn more about Hospice Isle of Man’s Sit and Chat benches, visit the Hospice's website.

Hospice, IOM Newspapers, Manx Telecom, Microgaming, PokerStars and Manx Co-op are Partners of the Biosphere project.

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