'Outdoor living room' coming to Hillmorton - The Rugby Observer

'Outdoor living room' coming to Hillmorton

Rugby Editorial 31st Jan, 2020   0

AN ‘OUTDOOR living room’ is coming to Hillmorton.

The neighbourhood will soon be one of the few places in the country to have a Friendly Bench – a mini community garden with seating, built to tackle loneliness and social isolation.

Hillmorton is one of just ten locations nationwide to be chosen by The Friendly Bench Community Interest Company for a lottery-funded expansion to the initiative, following two successful trials in Leicestershire.

The Friendly Bench was launched in 2018 to re-connect communities by giving people a place to meet, chat and make friends.

Volunteers from The Friends of East Rugby Group (FERG), which is now a member of The Friendly Bench network, hope to replicate the success of the Leicestershire benches by organising free activities and events such as gardening projects, get-togethers, afternoon teas and kerbside concerts.

FERG chair Jill Dwyer said: “We are delighted to be chosen to have The Friendly Bench in Hillmorton.

“This exciting new community space will be an attractive garden, a great asset and a focal point. It will give people of all ages a new place to meet and make new friends.

“It is also a fantastic opportunity for the Hillmorton community to get involved in creating and maintaining an attractive garden and social space.”

Left to right: Friendly Bench founder Lyndsey Young, Jill Dwyer and Jonathan Dwyer of FERG, Friendly Bench operations manager Jason Young, and Audrey Rooney-Ellis of FERG.

Friendly Bench founder Lyndsey Young said she came up with the idea having suffered from loneliness and social isolation.

She said: “Being closer to nature, active social spaces and bringing people together is what it’s all about – with community at its core.

“By creating a free-to-use ‘outdoor living room’ in the heart of the community, it means it’s accessible and inclusive for everyone.

“Each bench will operate uniquely to reflect the needs of its neighbourhood, each one helping to reconnect more people back to their community.”

FERG will hold a meeting early next month to provide more information about the Friendly Bench, hear ideas about where it should be situated, and invite residents to get involved.

It takes place at 11am on Saturday February 8 at Duffy Place Community Room, opposite the Red Lion.

The Hillmorton bench is due to be installed in March. Visit www.thefriendlybench.co.uk for more information on the initiative.

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