A project to encourage engagement between Aberdeen organisations and their communities burst into life on Wednesday, 27 July 2016 as the finishing touches were put to the city’s first Blooming Big Aberdeen friendly bench. Representatives from Blooming Big Aberdeen and family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen came together in Hazlehead Park to celebrate the colourful addition of a freshly-painted Home-Start Aberdeen bench.
The friendly bench project is one of the most recent initiatives to have arisen from the Big Aberdeen Event in September 2014 and is supported by ACVO TSI in partnership with Aberdeen City Council. It invites third sector organisations to claim and design a bench in the city to raise awareness of the support and services that they provide. Participating organisations are encouraged to create an eye-catching bench design that reflects their identity and activities, then work jointly with the other project partners to implement it.
“The big messages from the Big Aberdeen Event were ‘Let’s do something about the gaps between rich and poor’ and ‘Let’s celebrate our green spaces’,” said Alison Chandler, enterprise & sustainability lead, ACVO TSI.
“The Blooming Big Aberdeen bench project will get people talking and finding out about the great work being done around the city.
“We hope people will have fun out and about, tracking down the dozens of other friendly benches that will be popping up around Aberdeen over the months ahead in playparks, playgrounds and green spaces.”
The sunshine shone over Hazlehead Park as the final touches were put to the Home-Start Aberdeen bench accompanied by the celebratory skirl of bagpipes. Staff and volunteers from Home-Start Aberdeen were joined by families who are supported by the charity to celebrate completion of the bench. While the adults busied themselves stencilling the charity’s helping hands logo onto the bench, some of the group’s younger members were entertained with outdoor activities organised by Home-Start Aberdeen’s co-ordinators.
“We first heard about the friendly bench project some months ago and were instantly captivated by the idea,” says Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen. “Our raison d’être is to provide city-based families who may be suffering from isolation with emotional and practical support. We hope that the bench will encourage parents who didn’t know about our services to consider getting in touch.
“I also anticipate that the bench will become a popular meeting point for our existing families and their volunteers, as many of them like to make use of the fantastic community spaces that we have here in the city.
“It’s wonderful for both the charity – and for those who need our help – that there is another physical reminder of our presence in such a popular family area.”
Over the coming weeks other Blooming Big Aberdeen friendly benches will appear in popular city spaces – including Seaton Park and the Beach Esplanade – and along walking routes such as the former Deeside railway line. Plaques for each of the benches are being produced and donated by corporate branding specialists, Recognition Express Scotland Ltd.
Further information on the friendly bench project and other Blooming Big Aberdeen initiatives is available here http://acvo.org.uk/working-with/big-aberdeen/blooming-big-aberdeen/. For more information on the family support services provided by Home-Start Aberdeen visit www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk.