Council appeals for return of Chatty Bench
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has appealed for the return of a recently installed Chatty Bench, which has gone missing from Sentry Hill in Ballymena.
Mid and East Antrim’s Loneliness Network launched its first Chatty Bench in the Borough in May 2021 at Shaftesbury Park, Carrickfergus and since then has gone on to install a further seven benches.
The Chatty Benches initiative is one of many that aims to engage people in activities to minimise their sense of isolation.
The ethos behind it is to encourage anyone who wants to engage in conversation with someone to sit down on the bench and just have a chat.
There is also a plaque on the bench with a unique QR code on it, which residents can scan to access information on the Loneliness Network.
One of the most recent Chatty Benches to be installed was at Sentry Hill, but unfortunately, the bench has disappeared in recent days.
It was installed after volunteers from Good Morning Ballymena planted hundreds of trees on the site.
Since then, Sentry Hill Dog Walkers undertook a litter pick to further enhance the area after Council sowed wildflower meadows.
Volunteers who help look after Sentry Hill were concerned to notice that the bench has disappeared and reached out to Cllr Rodney Quigley to assist in tracking it down.
He said: “Sentry Hill is a wonderful asset close to the heart of Ballymena. It is enjoyed by many on a daily basis who use Sentry Hill for leisurely strolls and dog-walking. There has been a concerted effort in recent month to improve the area through tree-planting and through the sowing of wildflower meadows which will flourish in the coming weeks.
“It is disappointing to hear that a bench installed to support some of our most vulnerable residents has been taken so soon after being installed and I would urge anyone who is aware of its whereabouts to contact myself or the Council so that it can be safely returned to Sentry Hill.”
Anyone with any information about the whereabouts of the bench should contact 028 9335 8279 or email [email protected]
Alternatively, anybody with any information can also speak with police by calling 101.