LAST week, a Friendship Bench was added to the Strawberry Line by the Yatton branch of The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), Seven Standen writes.

Funds for the bench were raised by the Yatton Strawberry Hearts WI, led by then-president Sue Saunders, over the previous few years.

Members conceptualised the Friendship Bench during the annual Yeo Valley Lions Club's Sponsored Charity Walk, which follows The Strawberry Line from Yatton to Congresbury.

One of the WI members was resting on a bench, during the Charity Walk, and had an uplifting conversation with an unhappy stranger.

Following the Charity Walk, Yatton WI decided opening a Friendship Bench on the new section of The Strawberry Line would help local wellbeing.

Members discussed the importance of friendship and open conversations in combating loneliness, partially inspired by Ricky Gervais’s sitcom After Life.

The Strawberry Line bench was installed by Ryan Crabb of RC Contractors, who donated his time and materials.

Already, the bench is being enjoyed by visitors to the new part of The Strawberry Line.

Studies show Friendship Benches can significantly reduce depressive symptoms and they help improve overall wellbeing in local communities.

Benches have previously been installed in Clevedon and Nailsea to improve community mental health and wellbeing.

After the release of After Life’s final season, 25 ‘Hope Is Everything’ benches (inspired by the show) were installed around the UK.

Previously, Yatton WI has raised money for Yatton Youth Club, the Curzon Cinema roof appeal, and the Yatton Junior Parkrun.

Yatton Strawberry Hearts WI has been part of the local community since 1949, when it was initially established as Yatton Keynell Women’s Institute.