Our family news is that we have found a bench – on the sea front walk at Largs that my parents loved – where we can get a dedication to them. At a personal level, it’s part of the process of remembering people we loved. At a society level, it is contributing to the world of benches in public places where people can draw breath, sit and read, pause on a walk, reflect on the view and on life, and chat to someone they have just met.
The Young Foundation recently published Benches for Everyone – a report about benches in public places. It brings together the experiences of wonderful people and shows the impacts that having benches in our communities make for both our individual and collective wellbeing.
Last year Outside the Box brought together people who were interested in promoting and hearing the voices of older people who tend to get missed out – such as people who live in care homes and people who don’t get out much. Physical exercise and physical environments that work well for the oldest people were topics that featured in many of the presentations and discussions. The report from the We’re Here Too events has ideas and examples. Now people are telling us how these examples have encouraged them to build in more opportunities for people to get out more – and being able to stop for a rest at a bench, or several benches, is essential for some people getting out for a walk.
When the Make it Happen Forum in Falkirk was getting underway 2 years ago, they asked people about their priorities for the new collective voice of older people in this district. Having benches in the new Helix Park was one of the top 3 priorities. No benches meant that many people who lived in the area effectively had no access to an attraction that is the pride of that community.
Today there are benches in the Helix Park, which is a tribute to the impact of older people having a collective voice and to people understanding about the importance of benches for everyone. My mum and dad would have been very happy at both those things.