ARROW Valley East county councillors Juliet Brunner and Gay Hopkins have worked with Where Next Association, along with Matchborough and Moons Moat first schools, to devise an innovative plan to help friendships flourish.

‘Buddy benches’ have been commissioned for the two schools and are being produced by Where Next Association, which hopes to deliver them in the next few weeks.

Buddy benches are the newest attempt to promote inclusion and develop friendships in first schools by encouraging youngsters to sit and chat to each other.

Councillor Brunner said: “It’s a win-win situation for us all. Not only do our young people get a buddy bench to support friendships, we also get the opportunity to support the fantastic work of Where Next."

Councillor Gay Hopkins said: “It was delightful to see the children on the buddy bench when we visited. They are a huge hit. I'm grateful to Where Next which is doing a fantastic job manufacturing the benches.”

And Matchborough headteacher Jackie Harris added: “These benches will further encourage all our children to sit and chat to each other and encourage new friendships. Already they are doing just that.”