Mental health safe space unveiled in Nailsea
- Credit: Barbara Evripidou
Businesses and charities have come together in Nailsea to help promote mental health and wellbeing in the town.
The Talking Point Bench, in Millenium Park, was officially opened for World Mental Health Day and is designed to bring people together for a chat.
The initiative was spearheaded by Alliance Homes and the We Are Aware charity with the latter's director telling the Times that the smallest of conversations can make the biggest difference.
Director John McGhee said: "Loneliness and isolation are huge factors for mental health and wellbeing.
"When someone is struggling they may well withdraw and become distant.
"This bench helps to recognise that even just saying ‘hi’ can be vital to someone who is struggling.
"I became involved with We Are Aware after I lost my amazing son Max to suicide in 2017. We want to encourage others to reach out and stay connected."
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The semicolon-shaped bench takes inspiration from the use of the symbol of marking when a sentence could have ended but did not.
Other businesses enlisted to create the communal space include Jones Building Group and Crown Paints, all of which were represented at the bench's unveiling where Crown Paints sale manager, David Spreag, announced the company's delight to be involved with the project.
Mr Spreag said: "My colleague Richard Roberts is passionate about the work of We are Aware and he was instrumental in getting this bench in place.
"After the restrictions of lockdown more people are experiencing mental health issues so he will be pleased to see that Crown Paints have helped out in our own way.”
Research from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust revealed that the life expectation for people with a serious mental illness is 15–20 years lower than for the general population.
Jones Building group's Richard Penny added: “We were really pleased to get involved in this project, our teams work across the area and regularly help people in these communities so to give something back means a lot to us.”
People and visitors are encouraged to use the Talking Point Bench.
To access We Are Aware's services, log on to www.weareaware.info/contact