Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Friendly BenchⓇ?
The Friendly BenchⓇ are specially designed, accessible outdoor social spaces with sensory planting where community-led activities and events regularly take place to help reconnect people to each other, places and with nature.
Every The Friendly BenchⓇ is independently owned and managed by a local group and each are active, social hubs where free activities and events are regularly held to encourage people in the local community to participate, make connections, have fun and develop a support network.
What is The Friendly BenchⓇ network?
There is a network of The Friendly Benches across the country, each is independently managed, funded and run by a local group but following the successful model piloted in Bottesford and supported The Friendly Bench CIC.
When a group purchases one of our The Friendly BenchⓇ, they also receive full membership of The Friendly BenchⓇ Member Network. Membership includes comprehensive ongoing support and advice from The Friendly Bench CIC team to help them run a successful, sustainable The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme which builds positive connections in their community.
This ongoing advice and support includes:
support and guidance to enable scheme member to get up and running,
support and advice with The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme launch,
operational guidance and support,
ongoing support either through telephone, on-site or internet assistance,
training opportunities and / or seminars,
inclusion in national events and initiatives alongside other The Friendly BenchⓇ network members,
access to The Friendly Bench CIC’s and wider networks’ experience, expertise and sharing of best practice,
marketing materials and resources including rights to use brand name, calendar of events and promotional materials,
inclusion in national marketing and brand building initiatives to develop stronger presence in local, national and global community,
inclusion in national publicity and promotional activities including print media, TV and radio campaigns, as well as social media marketing to raise awareness of your scheme and wider community work to help reach potential supporters and funders.
Where can we locate The Friendly BenchⓇ?
This is entirely up to you.
The Friendly BenchⓇ can be sited on communal or private land, wherever it is located it should be within walking distance of those for who it is intended and the group who runs it. Ideally The Friendly BenchⓇ should also be sited to provide a convenient resting spot for those with limited mobility to rest, enabling them to connect with local services and public places. The Friendly BenchⓇ also works well where there is light to regular footfall, e.g. on the school route or in a well-used communal space. The Friendly BenchⓇ must be sited on suitable hardstanding which is at least 5.0m x 7.0m in size to allow an access ‘path’ around perimeter. Note: gravel or compacted gravel base would not suitable.
What permissions do we need?
On private land the land owner’s permission is required. On communal land permission would need to be permitted by your Parish / Borough / County or City Council.
Do we need planning permission?
No. The Friendly BenchⓇ has been specially designed to ensure planning permission is not normally required, however we always advise that you check with your Local Authority in case special conditions apply to your location e.g. within Conservation Area.
Who builds, installs etc., The Friendly BenchⓇ?
We will project manage, build, deliver, install and plant The Friendly BenchⓇ on your behalf. This includes an pre-installation preparation work - installation planning and project management, group support plus health and safety preparation work, installation and full project management to handover.
Who runs the events at The Friendly BenchⓇ?
The group or organisation that leads The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme would run the events and activities. However, if it is a collaboration, various members of your collaborative group can take it in turns to run events. The main contact would simply keep us posted, so we can help share your group's news and promote your group's events.
By joining The Friendly BenchⓇ network we can guide you on the best approach to do these and we can also share ideas and best practice from other groups who have The Friendly BenchⓇ in their community.
Who maintains The Friendly BenchⓇ?
The group that leads The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme would take responsibility for organising and/or carrying out maintenance of their The Friendly BenchⓇ. The Friendly BenchⓇ is specially designed and manufactured to be low maintenance and the planting is also hardy in all weathers, so garden maintenance is kept to a minimum. However, access to a watering point is worth considering when looking to site your The Friendly BenchⓇ.
How do we ensure The Friendly BenchⓇ remains an enjoyable and safe place for all to use?
The Friendly BenchⓇ has been manufactured to the highest standards and the quality of the structure aims to foster pride and ownership within the community it is located.
When in situ, ensuring the planting, structure and surrounding area of The Friendly BenchⓇ is well maintained, free of litter or hazards and regularly tended will ensure it remains enjoyable and safe, it can also encourage mutual care and respect from others.
We also understand each community has own challenges. Anti-social behaviour is common concern for many people and we understand this. To ensure The Friendly BenchⓇ remains a pleasant and safe place to use, we believe it is key your local community is on board with the inclusion of The Friendly BenchⓇ in their locality in the first instance. To help foster a sense of stewardship amongst your community it is also important to actively involve your wider community in events and activities that will take place at The Friendly BenchⓇ. Liaising closely with your local PCSO, Neighbourhood Watch Scheme, schools, youth clubs, youth groups and other local groups can also promote a community-led approach to safeguarding The Friendly BenchⓇ. It can also encourage individuals across the community to become voluntary self-appointed custodians. By joining The Friendly BenchⓇ network we can guide you on the best approach to do these and we can also share ideas and best practice from other groups who have The Friendly BenchⓇ in their community.
Is Funding Available?
Whilst each situation may be different, funding to develop The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme in your location may be available from a variety of sources. We are happy to provide links to organisations who may be able to help you with this.
Can we build our own The Friendly BenchⓇ?
All of our The Friendly BenchⓇ structures are manufactured to the highest standards, comply to Disability Discrimination Act Guidelines on seating and are specially designed and planted to be accessible and welcoming to everyone of all ages and abilities, including those with limited mobility. The design of the structure, materials, sensory planting detail and the careful consideration and implementation of everything from groundworks to individual plants means that anyone using The Friendly BenchⓇ can be confident that it is fit for purpose. Not only that, anyone who has a The Friendly BenchⓇ in their neighbourhood can be assured that their The Friendly BenchⓇ is an active, social hub where free activities and events are regularly held by a local community group to encourage everyone to participate, have fun, feel accepted, valued and develop a support network. Therefore, only our own The Friendly BenchⓇ structures can be part of The Friendly BenchⓇ network.
Please note: The Friendly BenchⓇ name, logo and structure design are the property of The Friendly Bench CIC and are protect by UK and International copyright and other intellectual property laws.
What is the cost of the complete The Friendly BenchⓇ package and membership of The Friendly BenchⓇ Member Network?
The total cost is £16,974 (not subject to VAT)
1. The Friendly Bench pre-installation preparation work:
Installation planning and project management, group support plus health and safety preparation work
2. The Friendly Bench manufacture, delivery and installation costs:
Supply of The Friendly BenchⓇ structure with solid oak benching and trim (overall dimensions 5.0m x 3.0m)
Heavy duty planter liners with integral drainage holes, gravel and geotextile membrane
Premium topsoil with compost dressing
Fully planted sensory garden scheme utilising child and vulnerable adult safe planting
Customised The Friendly Bench plaque to commemorate opening
3. Ongoing support and membership of The Friendly Bench network:
Ongoing support, advice and guidance from The Friendly Bench CIC team, including support with fundraising, marketing, sharing of best practice, ideas and resources as well as publicity and promotion to help keep the local community engaged and ensuring continued impact.
What is The Friendly Bench CIC?
The Friendly Bench CIC (Community Interest Company) is a social enterprise which aims to tackle loneliness, social isolation and build community cohesion using our innovative, purposely designed outdoor social spaces that reconnect people back to their own community. We work with groups and organisations who want to bring positive change to their community using our own specially designed The Friendly BenchⓇ outdoor social spaces as a tool to enable them to address these issues, build stronger communities, reduce social isolation and increase community cohesion. We project management, build, install and plant every The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme and also provide ongoing support and advice to all The Friendly BenchⓇ network members to ensure every The Friendly BenchⓇ scheme is successful and sustainable. As a CIC our assets are only used for our social objectives.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com