Rushden Lakes introduces ‘Happy to Chat’ benches

Rushden Lakes introduces ‘Happy to Chat’ benches

With a lick of paint, Rushden Lakes has created an exciting new spot that will encourage visitors to socialise, interact and even meet new people. Two benches in the Garden Square have been transformed by a local artist to help combat loneliness and isolation in the community with their ‘Happy to chat’ signs encouraging people to engage in conversation.

Kettering based artist Gary Kennedy (Kennedys Letters)- the artist behind the artwork in the Butterwick stores- was asked by Rushden Lake’s Centre Manager Donna French to help with the project which aims to build upon the already strong sense of community at Rushden Lakes. Donna said that the idea came to her after ‘chatting to the team in Mooch, one of our stores in Garden Square as they have a regular gentleman who travels in alone on the bus and sits there chatting to them’.

It is hoped that the hand-painted signs which read ‘Happy to chat’ across the two benches incite more visitors to sit, interact and have a chat. This project is part of a wider aim to break down social barriers and feelings of anxiety and loneliness that have been fuelled by the isolating events of recent years. However, the new artwork is just one of the many elements of Garden Square that animate a sense of community and positive well-being at Rushden Lakes.

Garden Square already offers visitors the chance to interact, explore and enjoy the natural surroundings that encompass Rushden Lakes. Children can play in the natural play space constructed from giant ‘fallen’ oak logs and river boulders, whilst adults are invited to discover the many popular retailers and independent shops that surround the square. For a bit more action, visitors can also escape into the nearby Nene Wetlands or partake in a range of leisure activities including walking, canoeing, and cycling.

Rushden Lakes Centre Manager, Donna French said: “Community remains at the heart of Rushden Lakes and therefore we are so pleased that we can now offer our visitors a dedicated space where they can connect with one another.

Our Garden Square is a warm and open environment that offers people the chance to step back, relax and feel at ease and we are hoping that our new ‘Happy to chat’ benches and artwork further enhance the calming atmosphere of the area and encourage even more positive interaction between people in our community.”


Wilson Browne