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New benches encourage taking ‘time to talk’

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Blyth Central Children’s Centre has unveiled some new benches outside its building, which are aimed at encouraging people to stop and talk a while – helping to combat loneliness.

The centre bought two new benches and has added a plaque to each which encourages people to sit down together and have a chat.

The staff team which has developed the plan for the benches wanted to support Northumberland’s Loneliness Strategy and encourage parents, carers and other family members to share a little bit of time with each other.

Each bench has a plaque with the inscription: ‘Take a seat, tell your story – big or small, connect & feel part of our children’s centre family.’

Dorothy Mills, team manager for the South East Locality Children’s Centres said: “A number of factors led to us deciding to have the benches.

“One was the loneliness strategy from Northumberland County Council, and the issues that this highlights for residents.

“Another was reading a survey carried out by one of the GP practices in Blyth and seeing that loneliness came out as one of the top issues felt by patients in the area.

“We therefore looked at installing the benches outside of the centre so that staff, parents and visitors can sit down together on the bench with the hope that they will have a chat which could have a hugely positive impact on their day.

“Each bench has a plaque encouraging people to sit down, chat, connect and tell their story.

“In addition, because of our support and work around LGBTQ, one of the benches has been painted in rainbow colours – which is a visible representation of our support to the LGBTQ community.”

Fittingly the new seats were declared officially ‘open’ on national ‘Time to Talk Day’.

Cllr Wayne Daley, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, performed the opening ceremony and said: “This is a fantastic initiative by the children’s centre staff.

“Loneliness is recognised as a major issue within our communities, and anything which encourages people to connect with others is a great idea.

“Parents and carers of young children can sometimes feel very alone, and will greatly benefit from sharing any issues that they may have with others who have children of a similar age.

“I hope that the benches will be very well used.”

Children’s centres are designed to ensure all children get the best possible start in life. They’re a focal point in the community where families with children under five can access all the services and information they need.

The Blyth Central Children’s Centre is managed by Barnardos on behalf of Northumberland County Council.

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