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SI Barnstaple and District were in the North Devon Gazette for their ‘have a chat’ bench

A new sign on the bench on The Strand invites passers-by to ‘Have a seat if you want to chat’ and has been provided by Soroptimist International Barnstaple and District.

Anyone walking, jogging or cycling past the seat is urged to chat to anyone sitting there on their own who may be a bit down.

The sign was fixed today (Thursday, October 10) to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

Irene Hockin of the Soroptimists had the bench placed there many years ago in memory of her father James Harper and also arranged for the sign to be placed.

She said: “He had a very difficult childhood and was in the services and never spoke of any of it and he turned into a very angry man.

“I wanted to put this here so that people know they can sit here and if anyone is passing and sees someone sitting on their own, they can stop and talk.

“Just say hello, good afternoon, anything, but please don’t ever just go past this seat with someone sitting there, because you might just save someone’s life.”

Nationally, the Soroptimist Federation president has focussed on mental health during her year, with the slogan ‘Soroptimists think on it’.

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