Fight Loneliness in the Community

27th Jan 2020

We are thrilled to announce that our NW Ipswich community is to be awarded a Friendly Bench thanks to National Lottery funding.

Friendly Bench is registered as a Community Interest Company, a social enterprise which tackles loneliness and social isolation, offered  community groups and voluntary organisations across the country to apply for their own Friendly Bench after successfully securing £240K of National Lottery funding.

You may be surprised to learn that this is no ordinary bench, its an active social space with integral planting, where anyone can sit, relax and chat with others.

Each Friendly Bench will also hold a minimum of 12 events each year for the community to enjoy.

The Friendly Bench is specially designed and built following Disability Discrimination Act guidelines. It’s a safe, easily accessible mini community garden with integrated seating and organic, sensory planting.

The Friendly Benches are situated within communities for people to meet, chat, connect, build friendships and find a sense of belonging in a growing disconnected, lonely world. They’re active social hubs where free activities and events are regularly held to encourage everyone to participate, have fun, feel accepted and validated, and develop a support network.

Each The Friendly Bench is community-led, with volunteers running regular activities and events including intergenerational gardening projects such as; ‘Blokes, a brew and banter’ get togethers, afternoon teas and kerbside concerts and we can’t wait to hear ideas from local residents in NW Ipswich!

Launched in March 2018 by Lyndsey Young, The Friendly Bench CIC was created to tackle loneliness, social isolation and community disconnectedness, by using innovative social space, The Friendly Bench. According to the UK’s Campaign to End Loneliness, there are 1.2 million lonely older people in the UK, and 9 million lonely people in total – increasing the risk of mortality by 26%, with increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

The Friendly Bench has the full backing of Sir Alan Duncan, Rachel Reeves MP, co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness also mentioned The Friendly Bench in her Westminster Hall debate on loneliness.

Lyndsey has also recently been awarded a Points of Light Award for The Friendly Bench from, then Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Friendly Bench won Best Social Enterprise Award at the Grantham Journal Business Awards, 2019, and the RCC Award for Sir Alan Duncan former MP for Rutland and Melton.

Other areas awarded a Friendly Bench are Bury, Chester, East Rugby, Sheffield and Halesowen, with further locations to follow within the next year.