A Blackburn resident visited the memorial bench inscribed with her inspiring poetry for the first time.
Hajra Sidat’s poetry is inscribed on a bench on Queen’s Park in Blackburn and is part of the council’s Covid memorial.
There are 17 benches in total – one in every ward within Blackburn with Darwen – which together form a memorial to the Covid pandemic and the victims.
Each bench features poetry written by local people during lockdowns.
The benches are places people can go to reflect on life during the pandemic, or remember lost loved ones. The poetry on the plaques share messages of hope and inspiration.
As Hajra saw the Queen’s Park bench for the first time yesterday, she said: “I wrote the poem when I’d recently done a course on energy healing. The biggest thing I took away from that course was the power of breathing to help manage our emotional wellbeing.
“Life can be so fast-paced and we do far too much multi-tasking. It’s good to be conscious of how we are breathing, and I hope that my words on this bench will remind people to take just five minutes out of their day to stop and just focus on their breath.”
Hajra’s father, whom she lost to cancer earlier this year, was a lover of the great outdoors. Hajra added: “My dad would be really proud of me to see this bench. I’ll enjoy sitting here looking out over the lake and I know he would have done too.”
This project from the spring of 2021 encouraged people to write poetry to express their feelings about the pandemic.
Martin Eden, Blackburn with Darwen Council's director of operations said: "Based on what residents told us we knew we wanted to create a series of outdoor memorials.
"It made sense to us to make links with the National Festival of Making’s Of Earth and Sky project, which had already given local people the chance to express themselves during the pandemic."
Find out more about our Covid memorial benches and the local people whose poetry features on them theshuttle.org.uk/covid-benches/.