Friendship Bench launched at Shipley Woodside Community Garden

Friendship Bench launched at Shipley Woodside Community Garden - SEAG - Shipley Eco-Action Group

SEAG is very pleased to announce the launch of our “Friendship Bench” at Shipley Woodside Community Garden, Hassock Lane South on Saturday 15th August 2020 10 am – 1 pm.

We are very grateful for the generous donations of two wooden seats, plant pots and funds to purchase the plants. Volunteers have made a planter to sit between the two seats to create the beautiful Friendship Bench. The two seats are adequately spaced to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Volunteers have worked hard to clear the area of turf, edged with wood and mulched with woodchip.

The Friendship Bench is in a perfect spot overlooking the sensory garden. On Wednesdays 1 – 4 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm when the garden is open, anybody is welcome to come in and enjoy the view. There will always be someone to greet you and show you around or to simply sit and talk.

The path to the Friendship Bench is well on the way to being wheelchair accessible and there is a small area for parking on site. We are carefully observing social distancing while we work on the garden so at the moment we can’t offer you a cuppa but we can offer you the chance to sit and chat if you would like to.

SEAG member and volunteer at the Community Garden, Nicky Godridge shares her vision for the Friendship Bench.

The idea began some time ago when I heard about a Friendship Bench on the local radio. I thought it was brilliant to know that there could be somewhere that anybody can go to and find somebody to chat with, the idea behind it being to reduce social isolation and improve mental wellbeing.

I looked at lots of places where a bench could be situated but the work involved in getting funding and generating interest seemed a bit of a mountain to climb, but when I suggested the idea to the other members, they all loved the idea and very soon we had the generous donations from members of the community who had heard about the vision and equally loved it, making the Friendship Bench become a reality.

Then came lockdown and for a few weeks the streets were empty and we had to halt volunteering at the Community Garden. After some time, it became possible for volunteering to start again with social distancing and other measures in place. We leave our gates open when we are on site and gradually more people paused from their daily exercise to have a look at what we were doing and chat.

I remember one conversation in particular, when a gentleman stopped just as I was closing the gate. He told me that he started work as a miner at Woodside as soon as he left school. We continued to have a lovely chat for about half an hour and I invited him to come back the next time he was walking nearby. I haven’t seen him again but now if he comes back we can offer him a seat and the chance to have another conversation.

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