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A ‘Friendly Bench’ has been unveiled at the Countess of Chester Country Park thanks to funding by people and organisations including The Chester Bluecoat Charity.

The new seating area has been installed at the park, in Valley Drive, Chester, to help tackle loneliness and social isolation by bringing people together.

The Chester Bluecoat Charity donated £500 to the project, and other donations included £500 from Chester company Ungerer Ltd, which raised the money after its staff took part in a Tough Mudder event last year.

The bench was officially handed over to Morag Scargill, of the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park, by Lyndsey Young, who set up The Friendly Bench CIC (photographed above).

Dedicated to hospital

The Friends group dedicated the seating area to the Countess of Chester Hospital as a thank you to the staff for the work they do.

The opening ceremony, which took place last month, was kept low-key because of Covid-19 restrictions.

A spokesman for the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park thanked our charity and the other organisations and people who supported the scheme. The spokesman said: “We’re sorry we couldn’t invite all our supporters to the opening ceremony, but we know great things will come from the Friendly Bench.”

Neil Davies, Chairman of the board of trustees at The Chester Bluecoat Charity, said: “The Friendly Bench is a wonderful idea and it’s a very welcome addition to the Chester community.

“We applaud any scheme that helps to combat loneliness by bringing people together, so we were delighted to support the initiative.”

What is the Friendly Bench CIC?

The Friendly Bench CIC is a social enterprise that aims to tackle loneliness, social isolation and build community cohesion with its specially designed and constructed outdoor social spaces.

The mini-community gardens feature integrated seating and sensory planting. They enable people to meet, chat, connect with nature, build friendships and a sense of belonging.

Each installation is independently managed, funded and run by its own voluntary group or organisation for the benefit of their own community.