The Friendly Bench CIC celebrates receiving £240k National Lottery funding to help tackle loneliness
Community Interest Company, The Friendly Bench CIC, is today celebrating after being awarded £242,713 in National Lottery funding to support its work to reduce loneliness, social isolation and create more cohesive, age friendly neighbourhoods in communities across England.
The Friendly Bench CIC, based in Bottesford, Leicestershire, will use the cash to work with groups who have identified loneliness as a problem in their community to deliver a purposefully designed and located kerbside community garden, with seating, to help improve the quality of life for the elderly, socially isolated and those with limited mobility, providing regular opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to meet, chat, share stories, learn together and connect with nature.
The Friendly Bench CIC has been running since 2018, it was founded by Lyndsey Young after experiencing loneliness herself and finding that many in her own community also felt socially isolated and disconnected from where they lived.
The pilot The Friendly Bench™ in Bottesford, Leicestershire has been a great success, running for 15 months so far it has provided regular volunteering opportunities for over 20 people, engaged over 530 attendees at one or more of the monthly volunteer-led activities/events and has connected different generations, introduced and encouraged other community organisations, public health and public services to engage with a wider and more diverse audience through attendance at and shared training events.
The Friendly Bench CIC have also worked with another Parish to bring The Friendly Bench™ to their community, who are already seeing positive benefits of having this innovative social space in their neighbourhood.
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will see further The Friendly Benches opened across England, increasing the number of people engaged through events and other opportunities to participate across the The Friendly Bench™ network to over 5000.
At the same time, this growth will enable regular volunteering for over 50 people across the network and provide a resting place and meeting point for over 10,000 casual users. This will help reduce loneliness and social isolation, improving individuals and their community’s health, wellbeing and social cohesion and resilience.
Lyndsey Young, founder of The Friendly Bench CIC, says: “We are thrilled that The National Lottery Community fund has recognized our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to bring more people together and help them build stronger, more connected, healthier communities. This is important because it helps people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds develop positive relationships and trust with each other, have a sense of belonging, identity and acceptance and create their own supportive circles of friends and peers.”
Joyce, 75, local resident at The Friendly Bench™, Bottesford, says: “The Friendly Bench™ is 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. It’s good for us to mix with other people, especially the kiddies.”
If you are a community group and would like to know more about getting involved complete our contact form or email: firstname.lastname@example.org quoting ref:
‘TNL Community Fund enquiry’.