Microreports

My conversation starter posters will help beat loneliness, says Oliver


Reported by Oliver

Published on Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Ageism Leadership Loneliness
Microreports

My conversation starter posters will help beat loneliness, says Oliver


Written by Oliver

Published on Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Ageism

Leadership

Loneliness

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.

Colourful artwork that has the words 'happy to talk about films'
One of Oliver’s conversation starter posters.

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!

Colourful artwork that has the words 'happy to talk about films'

 

To read a Guardian story on why small talk with strangers is good for us, read here.

 

 

Written by Oliver


I am a young artist and activist on the autistic spectrum who has studied at Westminster Kingsway College and Byam Shaw College among other institutions. Painting has been a way of expressing myself and helped distract me from my obsessions. I am very aware of the social barriers caused by ageism which led me to begin an initiative called ‘Engages all Ages’. Myself and a group of friends hold regular meetings and events as part of this project. I appeared on a Channel 4 TV show called the Undateables, which shows the dating agency ‘Stars in the Sky’ helping Disabled people to find love. You can see some of my art work on display at Oliver’s Village Café NW3, our family café, where I also bake some of the cakes.

Read all of Oliver's articles

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Ageism Leadership Loneliness

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