The Listening Bench, with Layman Human

LONDON, Battersea Park, near to the Peace Pagoda, Thursdays 10.30-1.30

BE A PART OF THE GLOBAL HEALING. Listening matters! Being heard means being seen and acknowledged, as humans we all need this to feel we belong in this world. More often than not, when people share their struggles they are not looking for someone to give them a solution or to fix the issue, they are merely looking to connect and let free the noise and turmoil whirling around within them. We can only survive for so long with a plastered smile and ‘I’m fine’ response, at some point it catches up.

If you’re in London, around Battersea Park, near to the Peace Pagoda, Thursdays 10.30-1.30, visit the Listening Bench! Read on to find out more… 🙂


Hello, my name is Stuart Frobisher. I’m also Layman Human, I’m a musician from London, UK, and I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute to the Friendship Bench Zimbabwe blog!

My background is that I am a pianist/singer-songwriter, I have taught music in Inner London schools for 22 years, I have practised Zen for 7 years, and I studied Humanistic Counselling Skills at Gestalt centre in London on a 1-year course. And I am a grandfather (not a grandmother, unfortunately).  I have learned and practised to listen, to hear people’s needs, and to empathise, not to analyse or dispense wisdom. People will find their own way if they are given space and support. There have been times in my life when that was what happened for me, and it was so important.

A few months ago I realised I wanted to start a Public Listening Service. I basically wanted to sit on a bench in a park, and if someone wants to talk, I will listen. I wanted to use what I seem to have learned from my life so far, which is: knowing that someone else cares and will hear me, can be enough to give me the strength to find my way. People have done it for me when I needed it, I have been lucky. I wanted to give it back. It seems like more and more people have no-one to talk to. They don’t necessarily need psychological intervention, just someone they can open up to, maybe to get a handle on their worries or problems.

I thought about some guidelines for myself, and wondered just how to get started. Then one night, my wife was listening to BBC Radio, and she heard about the amazing and powerful project of The Friendship Bench. When she told me about it in the morning, I said, that’s it! That’s exactly what I mean!

I wrote to everyone at the Friendship Bench to ask for some advice and support, and also to offer anything I could by way of help for them, if that was something that was possible. I was so moved when Dixon replied personally, within a day. Inspired by Dixon’s communications, and the further great support from Jean, I have been energised to see my idea through.

So last week was my second visit to the bench I have chosen as ‘The Listening Bench.’ It’s along the river Thames in Battersea Park, near to the Peace Pagoda. I go on Thursdays from 10.30 – 1.30.

Even though no-one has stopped yet, I am encouraged by the interest my sign is getting. I also made some cards for people to take. This is what is on the card:

I’m looking forward to a Listening Bench conversation, knowing that the evidence is all there from Friendship Bench Zimbabwe, that it really is good to talk. People are suffering in our city as everywhere, but there is also a great movement for healing. If I can be a small part of that healing, connecting with people and providing a way for people to be heard, I will be a happy man.

Thank you to all the Grandmothers and to Friendship Bench Zimbabwe for your inspiration and encouragement. Peace and Love!

Layman Human, Stuart Frobisher – The Listening Bench

Author: Friendship Bench Zimbabwe

The Friendship Bench provides sustainable community based psychological interventions that are evidence based, accessible and scalable. OUR MISSION: Creating Safe Spaces and a Sense of Belonging in Communities to Enhance Quality of Life ​OUR VISION: A Friendship Bench Within Walking Distance For All OUR VALUES: Empathy & Connection; Anchored in Research