Menu Close

In Support Of Young People’s Mental Health Wagamama Commits To ‘Opening Up’ Differently

Japanese inspired outdoor benches

wagamama today announces the launch of Japanese-inspired outdoor benches so friends can reconnect through real conversation as we all gradually ease out of lockdown.

The specially designed benches appear in key cities across the UK and mark a turning point as we start to rebuild far too many broken relationships.

wagamama is opening up differently to support young people’s mental health as restrictions lift and we are once again able to meet our loved ones.

The pandemic has intensified mental health struggles especially for young people, so wagamama wants to shine a light on the challenges that many young people will face coming out of lockdown. 

The pressure for life to go back to normal will be overwhelming for some and wagamama want to focus on giving people the opportunity to have real conversations and connect with their closest friends. 

An iconic feature of the restaurant, wagamama’s benches have aided conversation and connected people since it opened it’s doors in 1992. So, while UK diners aren’t yet allowed to meet their loved ones on the famous benches in restaurant, wagamama will bring the benches to them. 

The government’s roadmap specifically allows two people to meet, socially distanced, on a bench, wagamama is placing iconic Japanese benches in key university cities: Brighton, Bristol and Manchester – serving up free cups of fresh Green Tea and encouraging people to take a moment to sit at the bench and open up with one another about how they are really feeling. 

wagamama has worked closely with their charity partner Young Minds and mental health campaigner Ben West to fight for the mental health of this generation to be made a priority. 

Ben West, mental health activist, said: “Mental health affects every single one of us. There has not been a time before now that the mental wellbeing of young people is a more urgent issue, only exacerbated by the isolation and loneliness felt during lockdown. 

“These benches symbolise that you do not need to suffer in silence, acknowledging that sometimes chatting to a mate in the fresh air can be a way to recover and in fact, lifesaving for some.” 

Emma Woods, wagamama CEO: “We can’t nourish young people in our restaurants at the moment but we do want to support them coping with the pressure to put their game face on and “party”, as soon as lockdown eases.

We know from our work with Young Minds that a lot of them have really struggled over the last few months in particular and are feeling low. Talking with friends about your anxieties is the simple advice Young Minds and Ben West are encouraging.”

wagamama: our story and our food ‘kaizen’, meaning ‘good change’ is the philosophy that sits right at our heart. It shapes every dish we create, and pushes us to find better ways in all that we do. We’re restless spirits, forever creating and making things better.

We’ve been practising kaizen since 1992, when we opened our first doors in London’s Bloomsbury. Inspired by fast-paced, Japanese ramen bars and a celebration of Asian food, wagamama burst into life. We set out to create a unique way of eating; bringing the fresh, nourishing, flavours of Asia to all. 

To find out more and visit one of our benches please visit wagamama’s instagram and facebook page.