Good Causes

Jay Blades’ bespoke benches pay tribute to unsung heroes

TV presenter and eco-designer Jay Blades, face of hugely popular show The Repair Shop, has unveiled 12 benches across the UK which have been handcrafted in a bespoke design to honour some of society’s unsung heroes.

Each of the benches is being placed in a community where National Lottery funding has been used to make a real difference. In Basildon, Essex, 1 of the 12 benches pays tribute to Sarah-Jane Piper and Michelle Thomson who work with 150 visually impaired people who they have supported day in day out during lockdown.

Sarah-Jane and Michelle's bench features built in dog bowls for guide dogs, or any other canine companions, and is emblazoned with the poignant quote “Seeing is not the only way to have vision”. There are also dedications written in braille too.

Sarah-Jane and Michelle support people through the Blind and Sight Impaired Society (BASIS) by providing shopping services, doorstep food parcels, prescription deliveries, arranging house repairs and social care interventions as well as all important emotional support through their telephone befriending service.

Sarah-Jane said, “Many visually impaired people found themselves in crisis at the start of lockdown; they needed support they could depend on week in week out. We have been running the BASIS befriending service for years but knew during lockdown that we had to adapt in order to support our community further. Our aim was to make those people with visual impairments feel safe during a very scary time and without the funding from The National Lottery we simply wouldn’t have been able to provide this level of service.”

Jay said: “I’ve been really humbled to hear some exceptional stories of people who do so much to protect the vulnerable and care for many of those who live on the edges of our society. We are going through incredibly tough times but I’ve been inspired to see their work being recognised and to see the new networks we’ve created. We live in a very advanced, digital world, but we seem to have rediscovered what it really means to live side by side with each other again. Those bonds that connect us have really sprung to the surface.”

Jay’s feelings echo those of the public, as research by The National Lottery shows that 58% of people have an increased appreciation for community workers than before the pandemic and 78% would rather celebrate them than celebrities this year.

The benches are going to the following locations in honour of the people who work so hard to make their communities better:

  • Christina O’Neill, All About Us, Antrim
  • Steven McCluskey, Bikes For Refugees, Glasgow
  • Debra Kirkness, Music4U, Aberdeen
  • Mal Emerson, Marauders Men’s Health, Port Talbot
  • Rhian Mannings, 2 Wish Upon A Star, Glamorgan
  • William Longden, Joy Of Sound, London
  • Michelle Thomson and Sarah-Jane Piper, Blind & Sight Impaired Society, Essex
  • Oyovwe Kigho, The Widows Empowerment Trust, Manchester
  • Ben ‘Buddy’ Slack, The Swan Song Project, Leeds
  • Jo Davies, Wild Young Parents Project, Cornwall
  • Emily Kenward, Time To Talk Befriending, Brighton
  • Joseph Rutherford, Footprints, Nottingham

The National Lottery contributes around £30 million to good causes in the UK every week. With the help of this funding, thousands of people and thousands of projects across the UK are supporting their communities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These efforts are making a huge difference to people’s wellbeing, particularly those who are more vulnerable and isolated.

28th October 2020

The National Lottery has been changing the lives of winners and supporting good causes across the UK since 1994. In that time, there have been more than 6,300 new millionaires created and by playing The National Lottery you raise over £30 million for good causes every week.

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