Drop-in sessions at a Church of England parish, set up to provide a ‘safe space’ for people feeling anxious or lonely in the wake of the pandemic, have proved so popular that they are being expanded to cater for demand.
‘Ric’s bench’, offering tea, coffee, snacks and a place to chat at St Richard’s parish in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, will be launching a fourth session in response to demand.
Father Chris Brading, Vicar of St Richard’s, said the two-hourly sessions are attracting people of all faiths and none to the church and hall.
Volunteers are coming forward from the church and the wider community, he said. The sessions are about listening, engaging with guests and providing signposting to specialist support if needed.
The ‘Ric’s bench’ title is taken from a bench – actually a pew – preserved from the original ‘tin church’, that was demolished to make way for the current church building in the 1930s.
— Chichester Diocese (@ChichesterDio) January 26, 2022