Community-focussed organisations invited to apply to join The Friendly BenchⓇ network
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
THIS IS NOW CLOSED.
The Friendly Bench CIC, a social enterprise which tackles loneliness and social isolation, is delighted to invite community and voluntary organisations across England to apply to join their The Friendly BenchⓇ network, thanks to National Lottery funding.
Launched in March 2018 by Lyndsey Young, The Friendly Bench CIC aims to tackle loneliness and build community by creating open, accessible and purposely designed parklets with integrated seating and sensory planting for community-led workshops, activities or simple neighbourly chats.
Since receiving the National Lottery funding in 2019, The Friendly Bench CIC has launched The Friendly BenchⓇ in Ipswich, Rotherham, Chester and Rugby and have plans to install more The Friendly BenchⓇ in 2021 in Bury, Cambridge, Durham and Halesowen.
The Friendly Bench CIC are now looking for further dedicated community groups and voluntary organisations who are committed to bringing people together and building more inclusive, connected communities to apply to join The Friendly BenchⓇ network.
Working with the successful groups, The Friendly Bench CIC team would project management, build, install and plant one of their disability discrimination act compliant The Friendly BenchⓇ in an agreed community space. In turn, as a member of The Friendly Bench network, the successful groups would manage and run their The Friendly BenchⓇ as agreed, delivering regular community-led activities and events, with the aim that The Friendly BenchⓇ is a space which actively connects people to each other, nature and places whilst harnessing the power of community.
Lyndsey Young, Founder of The Friendly Bench CIC said, “By creating free to use ‘outdoor living rooms’ in the heart of communities where every barrier is removed, everyone, regardless of their age, economic background and ability can come together, reconnect with their neighbours, nature and also places in which they live.”
“Thanks to National Lottery players we are partnering with groups across the country who share our values, understand the importance building social connections and can grow with us. Our distinctive The Friendly BenchⓇ will be in the heart of communities across the country, each one operating uniquely to reflect the needs of its neighbourhood, each one helping to reconnect more people back to their community.”
Jill Dwyer, Chair, Friends of East Rugby Group said, “We are really excited that we have been successful to get the first The Friendly BenchⓇ to be installed in Warwickshire and I am proud that Hillmorton has one of the first wave of these amazing facilities to be installed across England. We think it will be a positive addition for the whole community to use.”
Morag Scargill from the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park said, “Having The Friendly BenchⓇ at the heart of the Countess of Chester Country Park has provided a unique opportunity to create a dedicated, welcoming space where individuals and groups can come together to experience a sense of community and wellbeing. Such a wonderful facility is even more important now than ever before and already it has been described as a ‘Joyous element’ by a park visitor.”
Joyce, 75 , Local resident, said: “It’s a wonderful scheme. “It's really lovely, my neighbour, who recently lost her husband, and I come here often, it's a lovely place, you always get into a conversation. I can also see it from my window, it's lovely to look out on.”
The Friendly BenchⓇ has also won praise from Loneliness Minister, Baroness Diana Barran, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Civil Society, Lords Minister at DCMS as well as former Loneliness Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, who said, “It is such a creative but wonderfully simple idea to help combat loneliness. It was by far one of my favourite schemes to hear about during my time as Minister, not least because it seems an incredibly cost-effective was of creating connections within a micro-community. I would love to see many more Friendly Benches across the country.”
To express an interest in applying to join The Friendly BenchⓇ network, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org quoting ref: “TNL Community Fund Enquiry 2020’.