We’re delighted to regularly feature blogs by Stephen Woollett and Sarah Taragon of Clarity CIC, and Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy, all highly regarded in the not-for-profit sector, particularly in the South West region. Their blogs are always great quality, considered and often thought-provoking, and we’re hoping to feature a few more articles by Clarity CIC and Emma before the end of the year.
Today’s blogs has been provided by Stephen Woollett and is entitled:
“Little things…big impact
“I was in Langport in Somerset the other day and there in a wonderful open space alongside the River Parrett were some nice wooden benches. “So what?”, I can hear you say. Well, at least one of these benches was curved, forming a U shape, intending (I guess) to make it easier for people – friends or strangers – to have a conversation. And that is just how that bench was being used on the lovely sunny day I walked past. I didn’t think much about it at the time but on reflection I thought – what a simple way of encouraging connections between people and (perhaps) in a very small way helping to reducing isolation and loneliness. I also recall parents wanting picnic tables installed as part of plans for a renewed village playground for some of the same reasons. And some cafes encourage customers to display simple little cards saying they are ‘open to conversation’.
“These seem like classic examples of “nudging” people’s behaviour to help achieve a better outcome. Seemingly small, nuanced changes can potentially have a big impact. And perhaps the message from the park benches example is how can we design our open spaces to help improve our mental health and wellbeing. Simply “providing” accessible open space is only part of the answer.”
Stephen’s article reminded us a similar, simple project that has made a huge impact in Crediton. This is where the Crediton Town Team placed a number of picnic tables around the perimeter of Crediton town square to enable people to safely meet and reduce feelings of isolation and social detachment during COVID. The benches have proved to be a great success and a great example – like Langport’s U-shaped seat – of how a straightforward, modest initiative can make a large impression on a community.
Do you know of any similar projects? If so, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share details of the project.
Images: a U-shaped bench and Crediton’s Share in the Square project, a collaborative initiative
involving the Crediton Town Team, Crediton Arts Centre and Crediton Town Council (photo by Crediton Courier).