A Friendly bench is an initiative that was taken by Lyndsey Young. She is from Bottesford, Leicestershire. She is no stranger to loneliness. After giving birth to her son, she stayed home and did some freelancing. But she felt like she was alone. Lyndsey had to deal with the pangs of loneliness even when everyone thought she was having a busy and productive life.
She admits, “It seemed to be happening around me: out of the window, on my phone screen, in those distant cluster of mums in school playground. I was present but I wasn’t.”
Lyndset worked for National Trust as a volunteer and then landed a job at the Wildlife Trust where she learnt about the impact of nature on the mental well-being.
All of this gave her an idea, how to deal with community loneliness. Loneliness is an issue in UK. A study by Co-op and British Red cross suggests that more than nine million people of all ages in the UK are often lonely.
The Friendly Bench is an initiative where people can come and visit the bench and share some community time. The Friendly Bench is not just a bench but a patch of nature with herbs and flowers.
A group of volunteers from the local community help in the maintenance of the bench. And they also host events like tea parties to bring together the residents.
The Bench has helped a lot of people in the area. A local resident Betty who is 84 said “ Now I am able to get outside and meet my friends”, she calls it a great scheme.
Tracey Crouch, the former loneliness minister said “ It is such a creative and wonderfully simple idea to help combat loneliness”, she commended Young’s creative genius.
Young is happy with what the Friendly Bench has accomplished. The residents who were unable to meet their friends due to mobility issues are now regularly meeting their friends and can go outside independently. She would love to see more Friendly Benches across the country.