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Date: 
Wednesday, December 9, 2020 - 09:30
  • The handcrafted bench in Cornwall is part of a 13 strong collection being unveiled across the UK in honour of society’s unheralded champions
  • The benches are dedicated to individuals who have devoted their time and efforts to supporting some of the most vulnerable in communities during the pandemic
  • The dedications have been created as research shows that 58% of people have an increased appreciation for community workers and 78% would rather celebrate them than celebrities
  • With the help of £30m raised every week by National Lottery players, thousands of projects across the UK are supporting their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic

Today, FALMOUTH based charity worker Jo Davies has been honoured with a bespoke, handcrafted bench designed by the country’s most famous furniture restorer and eco-designer, Jay Blades. The tribute honours her dedication during the pandemic for helping the charity WILD Young Parents Project. The bench will reside in the stunning local surroundings of The Eden Project.

The charity, based in Redruth, runs sessions for young parents focusing on mental health, relationships, healthy lifestyles, and building attachment with their children. Jo is one of 13 ‘Unsung Champions’ across the UK being recognised for their time and efforts in supporting some of the most vulnerable in communities during the pandemic.

The pandemic has challenged individuals and communities, with people pulling together with neighbours, local community groups and charities to provide much needed care and support. Insights released from The National Lottery reveal that almost half of people (48%) feel that, notwithstanding the hardships of the pandemic, one of the most positives things to emerge is the community spirit and 57% have an increased appreciation for community workers. This reinvigorated connection with the community, and nearly a third (30%) saying they know their neighbours better than before lockdown meaning that 4 in 5 of those (81%) actually feel safer as a result of this.

Jay’s bench dedication is inspired by the work that Jo undertakes for WILD. Last year the WILD Young Parents Project supported 115 fathers, 214 mothers and almost 250 children. It also provided training to 206 professionals, including teachers and police, on how to work with young parent families. During lockdown the charity found innovative ways to reach out to its community.

Jo Davies said: “Like most other people, we moved all of our work online – usually it would be face-to-face – but throughout lockdown we had 17 groups of young parents joining every week.”

“But for us at WILD, the main thing is we believe in our families and, certainly within the next year, we hope to launch our ‘Believe In Us’ campaign, which the families will be leading. The campaign aims to help policy-makers and the wider public understand how young parents have a distinct set of needs that are nothing to do with their choices and more to do with things that have happened to them through their own childhood, and some of the challenges they have to overcome that most of us never have to deal with. A lot of our young parents go on to wonderful things.”  

“It’s thanks to National Lottery players that we have had funding for two of our projects and we also received emergency funding around Covid, which has enabled us to keep our head above water in these challenging times.”

This increased appreciation for people who help others in their community, has led to a greater desire from the public to honour them. So much so, that 13 times as many people would rather buy a drink for a local charity worker than an A-list celebrity. 

Jay Blades said: “Like most of us, I have witnessed inspirational acts of selflessness and kindness this year as people have adapted their lives to help others. It has been an honour to hear about the 13 people whose work is being honoured with a bespoke bench being placed in their local area. Each bench represents the person’s personality, passions and the impact they have had on others in their community. It is hopefully a fitting tribute to their efforts this year – efforts that too often go unheralded but never unappreciated by those they help – that these benches can be places where others can find out more about their work.”

Eden Project Executive Director Peter Stewart said: “We are thrilled to have this beautiful bench right in the heart of Eden for our visitors to enjoy.  It is such a fitting testament to Jo’s great work with the WILD Young Parents Project. We salute Jo and all of the kind-hearted people who have used National Lottery funding to support their communities so brilliantly in this most challenging of years.”

Dawn Austwick, CEO of The National Lottery Community Fund said: “For 25 years The National Lottery has helped make amazing things happen, but never in such extraordinary times. People and communities have found themselves facing myriad challenges and pressures but have still found the passion and drive to support each other in so many different ways. These bespoke community benches are a fitting tribute and show that their incredible work has not gone unnoticed and is in fact recognised, valued and inspiring others more than ever before.”

The National Lottery is running a campaign in dedication to previously unheralded individuals who have responded to the challenges the pandemic has had by helping make other people’s lives a bit more bearable, comfortable and enjoyable, just when they needed it most. People who may not feel that their actions and efforts are anything special but have had a positive and profound impact across the arts, community, heritage and sport sectors around the UK.

The National Lottery contributes around £30 million to good causes in the UK every week. With the help of this funding, thousands of people 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 vulnerable and isolated.

To find out more about how The National Lottery is celebrating the work done by unheralded people across the UK, visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk