The Friendly Bench

| Helen Sharp

The Friendly Bench is a simple idea, designed to connect people to each other, their community and nature. It comes in the form of a mini kerbside community garden situated outside in Bottesford, Nottinghamshire. One of the independent living schemes for older people managed by Nottingham Community Housing Association. Local residents often find it difficult getting out to go to the shops due to the distance. This new outdoor space aims to give them the confidence to venture out and have a place to rest on the way. The plants in the garden have been chosen specifically for their sensory qualities. And the space will provide visitors with more than just a rest, it will encourage people to socialise with their neighbours and passers by and become part of the local community.

The Friendly Bench was created by local resident Lyndsey Young. Once the location was chosen, she worked closely with Jim Ansty, the scheme manager at Warwick Flats. It was essential to them that people living in the flats were involved in the development of the garden so project meetings were held in the communal lounge and the lounge and kitchen were used at the opening day. The water butts at Warwick Flats will be used to maintain the bench’s plants and shrubs and the gardening tools will be stored at the flats.

The kerb-side bench will be a resting place, an outdoor room where people can come out of their homes to talk to each other.

 Lyndsey Young

This is the first Friendly Bench we have heard about – there may be more! We love the simplicity of the idea and one that is easily replicable; a small change that will make a big difference.

Photo © The Friendly Bench™

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