The first “The Friendly Bench” has opened in Yorkshire, and it’s in Rotherham.
The social enterprise works with communities to help them improve their health and mental wellbeing, community resilience and cohesion, whilst tackling loneliness and social isolation.
Purposely designed as an accessible social space, The Friendly Bench helps grow and strengthen people’s social networks with their wider community and improves wellbeing through friendship and is the focus for regular community events and activities.
The Friendly Bench Kiveton and Wales, was officially opened in glorious sunshine by Alexander Stafford MP, accompanied by Councillor Dominic Beck, Assistant Head Teacher and Mental Health Advocate (Wales High School), Charlotte Cooper and of course, Alana Habergham-Rice of Alana’s Caring Cakes.
Charity baker, Alana was recognised at this year’s Diana Awards. The 12-year-old leads an annual charity event which has raised over £5,000 for various causes, including directly funding treatment for her school-friend with cerebral-palsy and the Sheffield Hospital Charity.
With a small number of invited guests and live streaming the event on Facebook to a wider audience, Alana officiated the ceremony firstly thanking ourselves for bringing The Friendly Bench to Kiveton and then explaining their plans for The Friendly Bench being a welcoming space for all of their community to get involved with and enjoy.
Local councillor Dominic Beck, went on to echo Alana’s thanks to everyone involved, followed by Wales High Mental Health Ambassador Milly Ross who spoke on behalf of all of the Mental Health Ambassadors and explained how they were all very excited to have The Friendly Bench in their community and how they believed it would “help mentees and the mental health ambassadors as they would be able to talk about their concerns and issues outside of the school environment, which would make it easier for all.”
Finally, before cutting the ribbon to officially opening The Friendly Bench, Member of Parliament for Rother Valley, Alexander Stafford, thanked everyone involved and expressed how “amazing” The Friendly Bench was, that we all need community and how it will get people “back to being a community together.”
Images: Alana’s Caring Cakes