Our latest two new The Friendly Bench™ officially open
What an exciting few days it has been for The Friendly Bench CIC, not only did we see the official opening of our first The Friendly Bench™ in Yorkshire, the following day our first The Friendly Bench™ was officially opened in Suffolk.
The Friendly Bench™ Kiveton and Wales
On Friday 14th August The Friendly Bench™ Kiveton and Wales, Rotherham was officially opened in glorious sunshine by Alexander Stafford MP, accompanied by Councillor Dominic Beck, Assistant Head Teacher and Mental Health Advocate (Wales High School), Charlotte Cooper and of course, Alana Habergham-Rice of Alana’s Caring Cakes.
With a small number of invited guests and live streaming the event on Facebook to a wider audience, Alana officiated the ceremony firstly thanking ourselves for bringing The Friendly Bench™ to Kiveton and then explaining their plans for The Friendly Bench™ being a welcoming space for all of their community to get involved with and enjoy. Councillor for Harthill, Kiveton Park, Todwick and Wales, Dominic Beck, went on to echo Alana’s thanks to everyone involved, followed by Wales High Mental Health Ambassador Milly Ross who spoke on behalf of all of the Mental Health Ambassadors and explained how they were all very excited to have The Friendly Bench™ in their community and how they believed it would “help mentees and the mental health ambassadors as they would be able to talk about their concerns and issues outside of the school environment, which would make it easier for all”.
Finally, before cutting the ribbon to officially opening The Friendly Bench™, Member of Parliament for Rother Valley, Alexander Stafford, thanked everyone involved and expressed how “amazing” The Friendly Bench™ was, that we all need community and how The Friendly Bench™ will get people “back to being a community together.”
Here’s a short video of the event
The Friendly Bench™ Ipswich
Saturday 15th August saw the official and emotional opening of The Friendly Bench™ Ipswich. Officiated by project lead, Tracey Dockery of NW Ipswich BLT was accompanied by Reverend Mary Sokanovic, Andrea Pittock from Suffolk Community Foundation and the daughters of the late Lolly Hill who was a volunteer for NW Ipswich BLT and The Friendly Bench™ champion.
After a few words in recognition of VJ Day and observing two minutes silence by Rev Mary Sokanovic, Andrea Pittock, Head of Grants for Suffolk Community Foundation welcomed everyone with special thanks to guests of honour local resident Vivien Mainwaring, Rural Coffee Caravan’s CEO Ann Osborne and the family of the late Lolly Hill. Andrea then spoke at length about The Friendly Bench™ and our work to help tackle loneliness, social isolation and build community cohesion and how NW Ipswich BLT, supported by Castle Hill Community Centre, will be regularly hosting and promoting events at The Friendly Bench™, which will be open and free for everyone to attend.
As special recognition to Lolly Hill and her hard work and love for her community, her daughters Amy and Sophie unveiled a dedication plaque and then officially opened The Friendly Bench™ on behalf of everyone involved.
It was a very touching ceremony and although numbers for the event had to be limited due to Covid 19 restrictions, it was live streamed on Facebook for a wider audience to be a part of.
To see the full event follow this link: The Friendly Bench Ipswich official opening ceremony
Both of these The Friendly Bench™ have been made possible thanks to players of National Lottery and are the first two of the 10 The Friendly Benches supported by The National Lottery Community Fund which are being installed across England this year, including Bury, Halesowen and Chester to name just a few.