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Organisations Collaborate for 'Talking Point Bench'

Organisations from across the region worked together to create a ‘Talking Point Bench’ in Nailsea’s Millennium Park. The bench is designed to encourage everyone to talk and it received it’s official opening in time for World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October.

The new bench is one of what is hoped will be many such benches coordinated by mental health CIC, We Are Aware. The bench is a located in Millennium Park where anyone can sit and simply have a chat. Just talking can be beneficial for wellbeing and especially for those experiencing tough times or facing mental health challenges.

The bench is shaped like a semicolon to not only create an interesting place to relax, but also because the semicolon has become a universal symbol of mental health survival.

The idea for the bench came about as a result of the relationship between Alliance Homes and We Are Aware. Alliance Homes were able to help thanks to the social value requirement in their tender process. All of Alliance’s large suppliers agree to provide a certain amount of social value to Alliance’s communities and customers. In this case Alliance Homes worked with Jones Building Group who in turn collaborated with Crown Paints to commission the bench from Ark Plastics.

All of the organisations met up in Millennium Park for the official opening of the bench. Present at the opening was Michael Williams from Alliance Homes, John McGhee from We Are Aware, Richard Penny and Josephine Bowden from Jones Building Group as well as David Spreag and Matthew Harris from Crown Paints.

Michael Williams, Community Investment Manager at Alliance Homes’ commented: “The social value element within supplier contracts was designed to deliver direct improvements for our communities and I’m really pleased to see such a fantastic example.”

John McGhee, a Director at We Are Aware commented: “Loneliness and isolation are huge factors for mental health and wellbeing. When someone is struggling they may well withdraw and become distant.  This bench helps to recognise that even just saying ‘hi’ can be vital to someone who is struggling. I became involved with We are Aware after I lost my amazing son Max to suicide in 2017. We want to encourage others to reach out and stay connected.”

Richard Penny from Jones Building Group said: “We were really pleased to get involved in this project, our teams work across the area and regularly help people in these communities so to give something back means a lot to us.”

David Spreag from Crown Paints commented: “My colleague Richard Roberts is passionate about the work of We are Aware and he was instrumental in getting this bench in place. After the restrictions of lockdown more people are experiencing mental health issues so he will be pleased to see that Crown Paints have helped out in our own way.”