The idea of The Friendly Bench began in 2018, and was first set up in Bottesford, a small village in Leicestershire. It response to growing social isolation and loneliness of older people in the village, local people came up with the idea of a safe, accessible, mini community garden with integrated seating. The Friendly Bench is a place for people to meet and connect with each other, a place for small community events, volunteer gardening, or simply a place to stop and rest when passing. The group behind it set up a number of activities and events including an afternoon, big walk, a get-together and men’s get-together. It has enabled neighbours to meet, re-connect, and link up residents from local care homes and supported housing. It has been such a success that the group is replicating the idea, and with Lottery funding is establishing The Friendly Bench in other areas of the UK.
The Foundation has offered £5,840 to contribute towards a shortfall in funding for the administration involved in expanding the scheme. This will help towards the set-up of an additional ten villages and towns across the country.