Article Source: Sovereign Assist
First Published: 31 March 2021 10:22
Updated: 31 March 2021 10:24
An innovative collaboration between Colliers, the global commercial property consultancy firm and Sovereign Assist, an Edinburgh-based local start-up focussed on combating loneliness experienced by retirees, will not only be a first for Edinburgh but a first for Scotland as the first ‘Chatty Bench’ is introduced outside Orchard Brae House on Queensferry Road, an office property which is owned by Palm Capital and managed by Colliers.
The Chatty Bench is a bespoke three-metre-long bench, able to facilitate social distancing measures, and designed to encourage conversation amongst those who use them, especially amongst older adults in the community. The pandemic has heightened the loneliness that retired people are feeling and the benches offer safe places for social interaction and intergenerational chats.
The bench clearly displays information on how to contact Sovereign Assist, who currently provide their members with a free online weekly social club, seven day a week telephone and video access to a GP and counsellor, a wide range of shopping discounts and a concierge helpline service.
Alasdair Manning, from Colliers said: ‘’ We were inspired by Sovereign Assist’s approach of placing benches around the city to help reconnect communities who have been alone for some time, due to the pandemic. We are committed to supporting and adding real value to the communities where our managed buildings are located. Orchard Brae House is a fantastic, accessible location and has a welcoming frontage which will make an ideal spot for the first Chatty Bench. We would also like to thank Palm Capital for their assistance and commitment to enhancing the community around which their asset lies.’’
Andrew Fyfe, Founder of Sovereign Assist said: ‘’We were really impressed with Colliers’ commitment to adding social value to the buildings they manage and as an Edinburgh-based company it made perfect sense to launch this initiative in our city ahead of a national roll out.’’
Gabriel Rudert, Director at Palm Capital, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has left many in the local community feeling isolated and lonely and we hope that the installation of Edinburgh’s first Chatty Bench, an initiative we wholeheartedly support, at Orchard Brae House will play a role in alleviating that strain.”
As well as providing a much-needed chat for whoever visits the bench, the ultimate aim is that they take a note of the website and phone details and make contact with Sovereign Assist, who will then help them to feel connected and involved initially in the free online social club.
The Chatty bench was launched on 30 March at Orchard Brae House when representatives from Sovereign Assist, Colliers and a member currently accessing the service attended a photocall.
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