I want to tackle loneliness and ageism by encouraging people to talk to each other in public spaces. I think this will improve people’s physical and mental health.
Since the winter started, I have been feeling very lonely myself and so I’ve come up with the idea of using themed conversation starter posters to make it easier for people to chat to me and others at my ‘happy-to-talk’ benches.
I want to tackle loneliness and ageism
The idea is to display the posters at the benches to encourage people who are really shy to stop off and make small talk, even if it’s just for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. That’s more than enough to lift someone’s spirits.
Happy-to-talk benches are supposed to be chilled places for people to come and meet new people, but when I set them up in the past people told me they didn’t know what to talk about. So, I thought that if I had a theme hopefully it would make people feel more comfortable about having a chat with someone they don’t know.
The themes I’ve chosen are: films, art shows, tv show, food, books, clothes and science. I chose these themes because I believe they make people happy and relaxed.
I am hoping to use conversation starter posters at least once a month and, in the future, I might try the idea out on the tube, although I would do that with a friend.
I am also looking into designing a conversation card that would help younger people talk to older people, including their family members, without having to ask lots of questions. That would make their conversations less intense!
To read a Guardian story on why small talk with strangers is good for us, read here.