Buddi Bench is showered with goodwill

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Showers in May greeted the launch of a ‘Friendship Bench’ at Calverley Grounds, but far from the experience that dampened the project founder’s hopes, he continued to use the seat to strike up conversations.

The ‘buddi bench’ project was started by Seth Hunter, who raised funds for the seat to be placed at Calverley Grounds, overlooking the basketball court.

As the Time reported earlier this month, the idea was based on the observation that dog owners seemed willing to engage in conversation with each other, leaving them less alone. Meanwhile, “pal benches” in schools allowed children to signal that they wanted to talk to someone.

Seth opened the bench on Sunday May 15 and said: “I can confirm there was both rain and confetti, but it was a lot of fun.”

With around 25 people “passing through” the opening ceremony that day, he admitted some disappointment at having half as many visitors as he had hoped.

However, he stressed, “the launch was only there for focus” and he continued to develop his functioning, adding that he continued to spend an hour a day on the bench, striking up conversations with strangers and distributing leaflets about the project.

Addressing the Time from the park on Wednesday, he said he wasn’t even sitting on the bench at the time because it was busy with two other people chatting.

“Yesterday I did my 12-1 as usual and spoke to four different people for about 15 minutes each, including a retired lady who had just come out of church and a retired sailor who suffered from PTSD,” he added.

“It really works. We get a diverse group of people.

“But it’s like when you throw a party and nobody wants to be the first to get up and dance. I am the one who gets up and makes others dance.

Seth is fundraising to take the project to other cities and locations on buddibench.org

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