Sovereign assist and Collier unite to launch the "Chatty Bench" project to reduce elderly isolation

Two Edinburgh businesses have combined forces to launch the “Chatty Bench” project that looks to tackle elderly isolation and support safe social interactions as we exit the latest lockdown.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 7:00 am

Colliers, the global commercial property consultancy firm and Sovereign Assist, an Edinburgh based local start-up focussed on combating loneliness experienced by retirees are behind the first “Chatty Bench” to be introduced in Scotland.

The bench is located outside of Collier’s managed Orchard Brae House on Queensferry Road.

It is a bespoke 3 metre length bench designed to support social distancing measures and is designed to encourage conversation amongst those who use them, especially amongst older adults in the community.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The idea is that the pandemic has heightened the loneliness that retired people are feeling and the benches offer safe places for intergenerational chats.

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 now 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.’’

As well as providing a much needed chat for whoever visits the bench, the ultimate aim is that people 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 through 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 for a photocall.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Sovereign Assist co-founder Andrew Fyfe and Helen Feeley, 73, chat on a specially designed 3m bench dubbed the ‘Chatty Bench’ outside Orchard Brae House, Edinburgh.
Sovereign Assist co-founder Andrew Fyfe (L), co-founder David Steyn (R) and Helen Feeley, 73.