“Hope is Everything” benches of reflection donated to Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park
Three bench installations have been donated to Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park in association with suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably - to encourage people to talk and get advice if they’re struggling.
It's part of a campaign in which Netflix has donated 25 benches to local authorities and the City of London Corporation to coincide with the new series of Rick Gervais’ After Life.
After Life focuses on the impact of grief and features a number of emotional scenes filmed on a bench. The series has regularly filmed at Hampstead Heath, which is run by the City Corporation.
The benches are being placed in locations across the UK where people can take the time to reflect and for communities to visit.
The series is renowned for showing Ricky Gervais’s leading character, Tony, on a bench at his local churchyard, as he grieves for his wife Lisa, played by Kerry Godliman.
The bench serves as a place for Tony to reflect, share, listen and, ultimately, to grow and find hope for the future.
The benches have been commissioned alongside CALM - who offer help, advice and information to anyone who is struggling or in crisis.
People who visit a bench will be able to access resources from CALM via a unique QR code with the wording “Life can be tough, but there’s always hope. Campaign Against Living Miserably is by your side”, and online by visiting https://www.thecalmzone.net/afterlife/.
The benches can be found from 14 January 2022 right across the country in locations including Bath, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Surrey Heath and Taunton.
They are each inscribed with a quote from season three, “Hope is Everything”, and a plaque saying “This bench is donated by Netflix to commemorate Ricky Gervais's 'After Life'.”
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen’s Park Committee, Anne Fairweather, said:
“This is an excellent initiative, and I am very pleased the Heath can be part of it.
“Mental health is so important, and open spaces like the Heath play a crucial role in supporting our wellbeing, which has been especially true during the pandemic.
“Many of us live busy, crowded lives. Taking time to reflect can make a difference in how we feel, and I hope this initiative can make a difference to Heath users.”
Ricky Gervais said:
“We hope the benches will create a lasting legacy for After Life, as well as become a place for people to visit, and we are thrilled to be associated with CALM and the great work they do.”
Simon Gunning, CEO, CALM said:
“Park benches provide opportunities to reflect, talk to someone, sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and get things off your chest. That is why we’re delighted to team up with Netflix to put benches in parks across the country - inscribed with that crucial line from the show, “Hope is everything” - to help people have those conversations and to show it’s normal to have those feelings.”
Hampstead Heath is one of London's most popular open spaces, attracting almost 10 million visits a year.
The beauty spot is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and recognised for containing some of the best examples of the capital’s habitats, including rare and important species which are of particular significance within a heavily built-up area of London.
Hampstead Heath is a registered charity, funded by revenue generated through services, grants, donations and over £6m a year from the City Corporation.
The City Corporation protects over 11,000 acres of open space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches - and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile, investing over £38m a year.
These green spaces, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Kristina Drake| Media Officer, Public Services
City of London Corporation