A SCHOOL has put two benches in its playground to help pupils who feel lonely.

The Buddy Benches scheme encourages youngsters to be kind to their primary-age peers who want someone to play with.

Lyne Souter, parent council member, at Warddykes Primary, Arbroath, Angus said: “If a child feels lonely, they can go to the bench as a signal that they need someone to play with.”

More than 150 pupils came up with designs for the benches in a competition and the winning entries were crafted into real benches by Tom Harris-ward, a local chainsaw craftsman.

The parent council raised £2,000 at a Christmas fair for the benches, which have already been popular in schools in America, Ireland and England.

Parent council member Julie Hartley thought the idea would work well in her school and decided to hold a competition for children to make their own designs.

The competition attracted more than 150 entries which were judged by councillor Lois Speed.

Mrs Hartley said: “I’m excited to see an idea turned into something amazing.

“This is the type of thing the parent council love being involved in and it’s so positive for the children with a very important message behind them – be kind to others.”

Ms Speed said she was overwhelmed by the quality of entries for what she described as “a heartwarming project”.

She added: “I absolutely love this project and all that it stands for. It was such a privilege to be asked to select the two winning designs.

“However, this was no easy task as each child managed to capture and express just how important friendship is.

“The standard of entries was hugely impressive and made my decision especially difficult.”

Buddy benches first appeared in the US and have spread to schools around the world including Scotland with benches appearing in primaries in Aberdeenshire and Edinburgh.

Eileen Prior, executive director of parents’ organisation Connect, said issues of anxiety and mental health experienced by children was a key concern.

She said: “We very much welcome initiatives which help children in school and in the playground.

“This scheme, sometimes called friendship benches, is increasingly used in playgrounds to help children through those uncomfortable times when they aren’t sure who to play with or what to do at break time.

“They are a great idea because we know from what parents tell us that playtime can be an anxious time.”