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Grandmother makes time to help people smile by having a chat on a bench

A busy gran is making time to help people smile by having a chat on a bench.

Roella Trudgill, 63, was recently spotted in Eye sitting on a bench with a sign saying: Happy to Chat Bench.

Around 12 people stopped to ask what she was doing, most leaving with a smile on their face after passing the time of day.

Roella Trudgill in Eye
Roella Trudgill in Eye

Roella, a Park Radio volunteer, came up with the idea after spotting a similar scheme running in Burnham-on-Sea and Taunton, Somerset. Police have installed ‘chat benches’ in a bid to combat loneliness in the community.

Anyone feeling isolated or disconnected is encouraged to sit on the benches and strike up a conversation with a friendly stranger.

Roella said: “I just thought it was a lovely idea, so printed off a sign and sat in Eye market place for an hour this week, while over there doing some volunteer work for the radio. The Samaritans is one of our chosen charities and having also been on mental health first aid training, I thought I would give it a go. I’ll also try it out in Diss and Harleston, as and when.

“Most of us have been bitten on the bum by the old black dog, as Churchill called depression, but it’s about putting it back in the kennel before it ravages you. Talking is the best therapy for anyone and sometimes to a stranger, is better than burdening a family member or close friend.

“I’m trying to encourage folk to also print off a Happy To Chat Bench poster and when they have a spare half hour, to find a bench in a populated area, pin the poster on it and smile as folk go past and ask them if they want to chat.

“It may make a difference to someone who is battling loneliness or depression and it makes you feel good because you’ve given time which is the most precious thing you can give.”

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