“Don’t be a Stranger” art designed to help lift people out of loneliness

A Southend-based art student has created a bench and confession box to support the national Every Mind Matters campaign and help people feel less lonely.

A small white bench made from wood. A sign behind it reads 'Don't be a stranger'.

A Southend-based art student has created a bench and confession box to support the national Every Mind Matters campaign and help people feel less lonely.

The idea behind 19-year-old Chanel Chaplin’s art piece, which is set up inside the Ironworks on Southend High Street, is to get people talking as part of the national ‘Lift someone out of Loneliness’ campaign.

The campaign is aimed at 16 to 34-year-olds and is based on research that people in this age demographic are more likely to feel lonely than other age groups, but less likely to seek help, support or advice.

Speaking about her artwork, Chanel, who is a South Essex College student studying a BA HONs in Fine Art, said: “Don't Be A Stranger' is a social, conversational art piece designed to influence and encourage people to connect through communicating their fears, ambitions, and regrets.

“I chose to create a bench for its dual purpose; as a site that encourages conversations and as a staple belonging to an everyday civic setting. However, what makes this bench unique is the space it resides in. Moving the bench to another site will affect the quality of conversation and quantity of engagement.

“The Ironworks provides a peaceful haven through its accommodating space and its friendly customers and staff members. So, I felt that this site would help encourage others to interact with the bench. Through this project, I'd like to influence others to embrace and nurture their vulnerabilities, that what makes them human, and destigmatise the act of 'keeping it all inside'."

Cllr Kay Mitchell, cabinet member for adult social care and health integration, said: “Chanel has done some beautiful work that enhances this unique location and I really hope her creativity provides a talking point for many people.

“Loneliness is truly awful as it can strike at any age and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to address.The global pandemic clearly didn't help matters either. So hopefully for those who need a little extra help getting a conversation started , this wonderful project will provide an artistic prompt, especially for those aged 16-34.”

Ami Solomons from The Ironworks said the venue is thrilled to be hosting Chanel’s work. They added: “The piece is a great conversation starter for the campaign ‘Every Mind Matter’s, a cause which we are very proud to support at The Ironworks.

“As a venue, we hope to minimise loneliness and social anxiety though our broad range of workshops, classes and events which cater for everybody. Our comfortable and relaxed surroundings are designed to encourage conversations and provide a cushion to those attending alone.

“We are planning an eclectic timetable of social events which aim to bring communities together and create new friendship groups.”

Follow The Ironworks social media pages at Facebook and Instagram for more information.

For more information about ‘Every Mind Matters’ or for support and advice, visit the NHS website.

For photographs, visit our Flickr page.

Published: 23rd March 2023

Go to top