Here's why there is a new ‘social seating’ area at Milton Keynes shopping centre

The reason behind a new ‘social seating’ initiative introduced by centre:mk this week has been revealed.

By Olga Norford
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 1:21 pm

The ‘social seating’ idea has been made a reality to mark this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which runs until Tuesday, May 15.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week is Loneliness with four benches situated outside the retailer ‘Next’ signposted as a dedicated area where a friendly chat with your seated neighbour, may help to alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Kevin Duffy, centre director, said: “The Mental Health Foundation, which has been running the Mental Health Awareness weeks for over 22 years, have quoted that millions of people across the UK are suffering with loneliness right now, something that has no doubt been exasperated by the pandemic.

Four benches situated outside the retailer ‘Next’ have been signposted as a dedicated area where a friendly chat with your seated neighbour, may help to alleviate feelings of loneliness.

"As a shopping destination, centre:mk is known as a sociable place to meet and, with over a mile of indoor landscaping, creates a beneficial space to improve mental health.

"We hope that by creating this dedicated seating area for the week, it will encourage people to come in and chat, helping to break the silence on loneliness and allow our vibrant community to come together and spread some kindness”

In addition, centre:mk will be continuing its work with James McInerney, of The Poetry Project, who will be sharing some of his mindful poems across its digital screens and on social media channels during Mental Health Awareness Week.

A spokesman said: “The aim of James' poetry is to raise awareness of subjects like depression and mental health in an attempt to help those who are currently suffering with these things that they are not alone.

“Some of the other ways people can participate in the Mental Health Awareness Week campaign include using the hashtag #IveBeenThere on their social channels to share experiences of when they have experienced loneliness, to support others and give the campaign momentum.

" People can also sign up to walk, run or jog as part of their 80 Miles in May challenge, sharing any photos using #80MilesinMay and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.”

For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #IveBeenThere and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

>The Mental Health Foundation works to support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk.