A Glasgow shopping centre has introduced a new initiative which aims to get the community talking
A charity that campaigns for older people has praised a shopping centre for creating a special seating area that encourages people to talk to each other.
The intu Braehead shopping centre, near Glasgow has installed Chatty Chairs in a bid to help people feeling loneliness and isolation.
It’s the first time a Scots shopping mall has installed a seating area that actively encourages people to talk to each other.
The move comes after Age Scotland revealed 282,000 older Scots feel lonely some or most of the time.
The latest Scottish Household Survey also found that one in four people over the age of 60 said they do not meet a friend, neighbour or relative at least once a week.
Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay has launched the initiative with signage that says: “Take a seat if you don’t mind having a chat.”
The intu Braehead Chatty Chairs are in the upper mall and are configured to make it easy for shoppers to start a conversation with someone sitting next to them.
Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “This is a wonderful initiative which will hopefully give people of all ages the chance to have a chat with someone new and perhaps even forge new friendships.
“Often a smile and a friendly chat can make all the difference to someone who is experiencing loneliness.
“It would be great if the Chatty Chairs helped to stimulate more conversation and social interaction between the generations and younger people were encouraged to spend more time with older people they know.”
Mackay, whose constituency takes in the shopping centre, said: “This innovative idea from intu Braehead to provide a seated area where people can start a conversation with someone will help tackle the very real problem of loneliness in our community.
“This is exactly the type of initiative the Scottish Government would encourage as part of our strategy to deal with social isolation and loneliness.”
Lydia Brown, intu Braehead’s community development manager said: “The simple act of stopping to say hello to someone sitting on one of our Chatty Chairs could make a huge difference if they are feeling lonely.
“A few minutes chat started by a simple ‘hello’, or ‘how you doing, today?’ could make someone’s life a whole lot better and make them feel less isolated.
“We recognise loneliness is a problem for many people – of all ages – and we hope our Chatty Chairs initiative can play a small part in combating feelings of loneliness and isolation.”