Cala Homes and its national charity partner Samaritans have unveiled a ‘story bench’ designed by local artist and Samaritans volunteer, Maithili.
Maithili is a local artist who has been a Samaritans volunteer for two years. She is passionate about the importance of having somewhere to turn to for help, and of raising awareness of the support available.
The bench has been especially designed for the newly-restored public space at Eashing Fields to provide people with a place to relax, reflect and converse, and the design tells the story of the surrounding nature – with images of the trees, plants and animals present in the fields through the changing seasons, reflecting how wild places provide peace, learning and inspiration for everyone.
The unveiling marks the official launch of Eashing Fields, a newly created natural greenspace in Godalming, near Cala’s Ockford Park development, restored as part of Cala’s Section 106 planning agreement with Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council, which saw the contribution of the new public space.
Cala worked with national land management charity The Land Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust to restore the high quality space as a suitable alternative natural greenspace (SANG), created from former farmland to enable visitors to walk and relax in beautiful surroundings along a 2.4km trail.
Maithili’s design is based on the natural beauty and wildlife of the area symbolised through the changing seasons, illustrating hope through times of change. She said: “I am proud to have created the illustration for the new Samaritans story bench at Eashing Fields. As a local artist, I am delighted to draw upon my own experiences and ideas to share the message that even in times of great change, throughout the seasons, there is always hope.
“As a Samaritans volunteer, I believe in the healing power of being present to listen. It’s a privilege to be there for people when they’re facing tough times, and I am really pleased that the bench shares this important message of hopefulness in the local area.”
Michael Harvey-Browne, Commercial Manager at Cala Homes (South Home Counties) said: “It’s important for us as a homebuilder to make a positive contribution to the local area, and we’re very pleased to see the newly-restored Eashing Fields be so well received as a place to walk and enjoy the beautiful Surrey Hills backdrop. It has been a pleasure to work with Maithili on the story bench, which portrays an important message and we hope that it will become a place for people to talk and spend quality time with one another, or with nature, for years to come in Eashing Fields.”
Projects that Cala colleagues in South Home Counties have undertaken recently to support Samaritans include a 40 mile walk across the region, raising £18,000 and the gruelling three-peaks challenge which raised over £8,000.
Cala’s ongoing support helps to ensure that Samaritans can continue to be there for anyone who is struggling to cope, with the partnership launching after Samaritans called for better mental and emotional health support for middle-aged men. Being one of the most high-risk groups for suicide, middle-aged men remain three times more likely to take their own lives than women1, with the risk of suicide being significantly higher for those men who work in the construction sector than the national UK average2. Samaritans offers sessions to help equip Cala’s team with the skills to take care of their own wellbeing and that of their colleagues.
Alan Carter, Chief Executive of the Land Trust, said: “Supporting the wellbeing of local communities and delivering Social Value through high quality greenspace is at the heart of the Land Trust’s aims. Partnership working between Cala, Samaritans and the Land Trust to produce valuable and much needed seating at Eashing Fields puts this into practice and offers a fantastic asset to help visitors to enjoy their surroundings. It has been great to work together to tell the story of this special wildflower and woodland site and highlighting the beauty and importance of nature for all visitors.”
Adam Bolton, Conservation Manager for Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a special place for wildlife and for people, and I look forward to working with the community to create a habitat that attracts ever-increasing numbers of birds, insects, reptiles, plants and mammals.
“Nature is there to help us get through tough times – but with ever-increasing pressure on the natural world, it needs our help more than ever. I hope people who come to Eashing Fields for solace, enjoyment or to learn and will be inspired to do more to give nature a helping hand.”