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The story bench that is a symbol of hope

Words by Smiley Team

A creatively-painted bench has become a marker for people to enjoy nature, the trees around them, and everything our natural world has to offer. 

Cala Homes and its national charity partner Samaritans unveiled what they called the ‘story bench’, which designed by artist and Samaritans volunteer, Maithili. 

Maithili has been a Samaritans volunteer for two years, and she's passionate about the importance of having somewhere to turn to for help, and of raising awareness of the support available.

The bench has been especially designed for a newly-restored public space at Eashing Fields, in Godalming, to provide people with a place to relax, reflect and converse, and the design tells the story of the surrounding nature – with images of the trees, plants and animals present in the fields through the changing seasons, reflecting how wild places provide peace, learning and inspiration for everyone.

The unveiling marks the official launch of Eashing Fields, a newly created natural greenspace in Godalming. Cala worked with national land management charity The Land Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust to restore the high quality space as a suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG), created from former farmland to enable visitors to walk and relax in beautiful surroundings along a 2.4km trail.

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Maithili said: “I am proud to have created the illustration for the new Samaritans story bench at Eashing Fields. As a local artist, I am delighted to draw upon my own experiences and ideas to share the message that even in times of great change, throughout the seasons, there is always hope.

“As a Samaritans volunteer, I believe in the healing power of being present to listen. It’s a privilege to be there for people when they’re facing tough times, and I am really pleased that the bench shares this important message of hopefulness in the local area.”

Projects that Cala colleagues in South Home Counties have undertaken recently to support Samaritans include a 40 mile walk across the region, raising £18,000 and the gruelling three-peaks challenge which raised over £8,000.

Cala’s ongoing support helps to ensure that Samaritans can continue to be there for anyone who is struggling to cope, with the partnership launching after Samaritans called for better mental and emotional health support for middle-aged men. Being one of the most high-risk groups for suicide, middle-aged men remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women1, with the risk of suicide being significantly higher for those men who work in the construction sector than the national UK average2. Samaritans offers sessions to help equip Cala’s team with the skills to take care of their own wellbeing and that of their colleagues.

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: Find out how you can support Samaritans through its website

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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