How the idea of Friendship Benches in Qatar came about?
As the world got caught in the FIFA World Cup fever, another lesser know movement was also coming up at the same time, namely the Friendship benches in Qatar.
On the 10th of October 2022, FIFA, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, WISH, the Friendship Benches NGO, and the WHO Universal Health Coverage Partnership came together to launch a unique project. It was the ice-breaking concept of Friendship Benches in Qatar.
Understandably, the project aims to bring focus to mental health by installing friendship benches. This is how the idea of Friendship benches at FIFA World Cup venues in Qatar came up.
Thirty-two “Friendship Benches,” one for each nation competing in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 have been installed in prominent Doha locations and tournament venues.
The Idea behind Friendship Benches in Qatar
- An NGO from Zimbabwe came up with this ingenious concept. The objective was to provide safe public spaces to clients and build a sense of belonging in communities.
- Since 2019 the Friendship Bench NGO has provided community based mental health support and services to the locals.
- The person taking counselling from the trained community counsellor, sit outdoors in parks on public wooden benches. These benches remove the stigma and puts the client at ease while undergoing talk therapy for their mental health issues.
- The NGO aims to have Friendship Benches within walking distance all over the world.
Why Choose FIFA for Friendship Benches?
- From time immemorial , Sport has evoked strong passions and is also is a big unifier of people. Football is one of the most popular sports in the world. The FIFA World CUP is like a pilgrimage for football fans. People from all over the world flock to the World Cup venue to watch their favorite team play. Mental well-being is a core area of health so why not erect a functioning and lasting symbol that promotes Mental Health?
- Conclusively Qatar FIFA world CUP is the perfect spotlight for highlighting an important issue. After brainstorming sessions between WHO and the Ministry of Public Health(Qatar), finally, the Friendship Benches in Qatar came up.
- The first bench to be inaugurated at Qatar Foundation’s global health event was the England Bench. Sir Mo Farah, Ten time Olympic gold winner and the most successful British track athlete, inaugurated the First Friendship Bench in Qatar.
- Truly, the custom-made public friendship benches showcased during the world cup is an ingenious way to promote mental well-being.
- Its goal is to demonstrate the significance of mental health and to provide advice on how to promote mental well-being, including the importance of physical activity and sport. It is such a sensible and successful concept that many international agencies are supporting it.
So even when the World Cup will be over , the residents will have this lasting legacy of Friendship Benches in Qatar. The benches will continue to encourage people to come together and talk about Mental Health.
This post is my contribution to Blogchatter’s initiative #CauseAChatter.