Halesowen BID launch new Friendly Bench to tackle social isolation

Staff at the town centre scheme are celebrating after Halesowen's new addition was unveiled by the Mayor of Dudley.

Councillor Anne Millward presided over the handing over ceremony, which was conducted by town centre manager, Vicky Rogers at the site of the bench outside Wilko on Hagley Street.

The bench, which is the first to be installed in a UK town centre, forms part of a UK-wide scheme run by The Friendly Bench CIC. It aims to tackle loneliness and social isolation by giving people who are shopping on their own an informal communal seating area. It also feature sensory planting and will be maintained by a small team in conjunction with the BID.

The bench was dedicated to Caroline Wiliams, an employee of Halesowen College who passed away last year after a battle with cancer. Speaking about the project, town centre manager, Vicky Rogers said:

"The project began 18 months ago when we applied for funding and to become part of a social movement to reduce isolation. Halesowen is actively working to become a more inclusive town centre through both Dementia and Autism awareness so this project fits in with our aims perfectly.

"We're excited to launch our Friendly Bench in Halesowen and we've seen the rise of mental health issues more and more since the start of the pandemic and we hope this can go some way to helping those who are struggling."

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