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'Outside living rooms' help support community

Words by Smiley Team

A social enterprise which aims to tackle loneliness and social isolation is stepping up to raise awareness of bowel cancer. 

Launched in March 2018 by Lyndsey Young, The Friendly Bench aims to build community by creating open and accessible parklets with seating and sensory planting for community-led workshops, activities or simple neighbourly chats.

Since receiving National Lottery funding in 2019, The Friendly Bench has launched in Ipswich, Rotherham, Chester and Rugby, and they have plans to install more in Bury, Cambridge, Durham and Halesowen.

“By creating free to use ‘outdoor living rooms’ in the heart of communities where every barrier is removed, everyone, regardless of their age, economic background and ability can come together, reconnect with their neighbours, nature and also places in which they live," says Lyndsey Young, founder of The Friendly Bench. 

(Read more about the man who had cancer and walked the length of Britain

Lyndsey continues: “We are regularly blown away and humbled by the incredible community-focused activities our The Friendly Bench Network members undertake to support and bring people of all ages and abilities together.”

Following the news that a member of their community has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the Friendly Bench Network members, Royal Navy Family and Culdrose Community Centre designed a special project to support her and her family, as well as to raise funds and awareness for bowel cancer.

The Journey Home project, which was launched on 15 November, aims to get everyone across the community to either walk, run, cycle, swim or jog a personal distance to complete a total distance of 465 miles, the distance from home of the community member who’s inspired the challenge.

(Read more about how this community came together for a cancer patient)

The hope is that by encouraging everyone to journey with others, they can also share time, chat and support each other, building on positive mental health. 

The Friendly Bench Culdrose is also hoping that they can raise awareness of bowel cancer, raise funds, support mental health and wellbeing. 

On 15 December, RFNPS Culdrose Community Centre are hoping a large number of people will come together at The Friendly Bench Culdrose to complete the journey alongside the Base Commander, after which a celebration for the challenge and life will be launched.

You can find out more about the challenge on the Culdrose Royal Navy Community Facebook group, and learn more about The Friendly Bench on its website, or make a donation

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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