Red Bench Project launches South Shields mental health campaign

The brand-new project has been launched by Wayne Rambo Groves, who wants to encourage people struggling to talk.

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A brand-new project has been launched in South Shields to provide those struggling with their mental health a safe space to chat to others.

The new project which has been created and launched by 44-year-old Wayne Rambo Groves, is named The Red Bench Project and will involve red benches being placed in “hot-spots” around South Shields, where people can sit when they are feeling low, and even chat to others about their struggles.

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Wayne, who describes himself as a “proud Sanddancer” explained: “These red benches can act like a silent cry for help. I hope people that feel so low, might use these benches to take a moment to think, to calm down and try and get their head together, something I often do myself.

“But if you see someone sitting alone at a red bench, maybe you could go sit next to them, say hello, see if they are ok. Trust me, that little action can really make a big difference, I know because I have been that person sitting on the bench, but I have also been the person talking to someone making sure they were ok.”

Each red bench will also have contact details for mental health charities placed on them, as Wayne explained: “That way if someone is thinking a little clearer, they might actually seek help then and there.”

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The red benches will also have information about The Red Bench Project, as Wayne explained: “That way anyone walking past the bench may stop to see what it is all about, learning about the red bench project and its aims, which will hopefully make them think the next time they see someone sitting on a bench alone.”

Wayne decided to come up with the idea for the red benches based on his own experience with mental health struggles. He explained that he and his friend Mick Beatie would meet up on South Shields seafront to talk through their problems.

Sadly, Mick passed away last year, and Wayne wanted to create the benches to provide South Shields residents with a place just like he and Mick had.

The first red bench was placed at South Shields promenade, between the amphitheatre and The Sand Dancer pub, on Monday, July 3 and Wayne tells us that less than six hours after installation, people were already sitting at the bench and chatting to one another.

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Wayne has already had huge support for his brand-new project, and explained that event organiser Natalie Lascelles has agreed to pay for the next bench, with money raised from her South Shields event, RosieFest.

Wayne said: “I am also overwhelmed with the support this has already gained. Thankfully I have some fantastic help and support from the likes of Tracy Beaton at Bede’s Helping Hands and several of the veterans from NAAFI Break. This really is all new to me so their help and support has been invaluable.

“I have to give a massive thank you to council leader Tracey Dixon who has been a huge part in making this become a reality.”

Wayne Rambo Groves has launched The Red Bench Project.Wayne Rambo Groves has launched The Red Bench Project.
Wayne Rambo Groves has launched The Red Bench Project.

Wayne, who fundraises for other charities, said: “Setting up an actual charity myself is daunting and a lot of hard work, but it really is worth it if it helps even just one person, that to me justifies everything.”

Wayne is currently working towards making The Red Bench Project a fully registered charity.