The Friendly Bench
1215. Lyndsey Young
Lyndsey Young, from Leicestershire, is the founder of The Friendly Bench™, a kerbside community garden that is tackling loneliness in the area.
Having faced loneliness herself after the birth of her son and while working as a freelancer, Lyndsey was inspired to create The Friendly Bench™ when she learned about the positive impacts of nature on mental wellbeing. The Friendly Bench™ is a unique space, offering a safe, easily accessible mini community garden with integrated seating, specially designed to encourage connections between the community and nature and is the focus for monthly activities and events for locals to partake in together. Located within easy walking distance of many elderly residents, it also provides a convenient and comfortable place for those with limited mobility to rest, helping them connect with local services and shops, whilst also encouraging independence and opportunities to engage with the wider community on their own terms. Since launching in 2018, almost 500 people of all backgrounds and ages have visited The Friendly Bench™, coming together, despite their differences, to enjoy each other’s company.
Lyndsey was presented with her award at Westminster by her local MP Sir Alan Duncan, who officially opened the Friendly Bench in 2018.
In a personal letter to Lyndsey, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“With ‘The Friendly Bench’, you have created a unique space for the community, young and old, to come together to enjoy each other’s company. By bringing people together, you are tackling the loneliness felt by so many and forging friendships and bonds which make a community stronger.”
Sir Alan Duncan said:
“I am absolutely delighted that the hard work of my constituent Lyndsey Young has been recognised with a Points of Light award. The Friendly Bench is a fantastic initiative which I was delighted to officially open last year. Loneliness can affect anyone, no matter their age or background, and we should be doing all we can to tackle it. Projects like Lyndsey’s can make a real difference to people’s lives.”
“I am thrilled and honoured to have been awarded the Points of Light award for setting up The Friendly Bench™. Loneliness can affect everyone and anyone at some point in their life and unfortunately for some sustained loneliness and social isolation can have a profoundly negative effect on their health and wellbeing. By creating The Friendly Bench™ and with the support of our fabulous volunteers, we have created a vibrant social hub in the heart of our village where everyone feels valued, accepted and a part of their wider community. Our plans now are to extend a The Friendly Bench™ network across the UK and enable other communities to have a friendly, supportive hub on their own doorstep too.”