A lunchtime seminar examining the bench in today’s towns and cities discussing the Young Foundation report Benches for everyone: solitude in public, sociability for free

The humble bench. An unremarkable feature of public life. A source of quiet pleasure or a potential magnet for street drinkers?

The Bench Project has undertaken ethnographic research, talking to bench users and those who make decisions about benches, to get beyond the generalisations.

Look around for yourself, how many different cultures you can see here, and I think it’s just brilliant, and the different cultures that come here you see them actually mix. You see them in their little groups but then you see people walking past and saying hi and hi. It’s a start, you know”.

Many of the people who use benches find cafes too expensive and too restrictive. For people like the Nepali elders in Woolwich who want to meet in large groups or people who have time to spend and enjoy sitting and watching the world go by, benches are a crucial resource.

Led by Radhika Bynon (Young Foundation) and Clare Rishbeth (University of Sheffield)

Have a look on the project website here: http://the-bench-project.weebly.com