Whilst listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4 we heard about the Chatty Cafe Scheme. This initiative was started by Alex Hoskins and this is what she said:
"The scheme was created on a wet and windy day when I was in a supermarket café with my four month old son. He wasn’t great company and I was feeling fed up.
I looked round the café and saw an elderly lady who looked just as down as me and on another table sat a young guy with additional needs and his support worker both looking like they had run out of conversation!
I started to think about the positive impact we could have had on each other if we had sat together."
The scheme isn't about developing deep friendships, but instead just having simple human interaction. It's open to anyone; teenagers, young mums who haven't had any adult conversation, people who live by themselves, office workers on a quick break. We can all benefit from a five minute conversation, as in a world where so much of our social interaction takes place digitally it is easy to go through a day without any physical interaction.
Part of my passion for the High Street and my answer whenever I'm asked why I do what I do, is that a thriving High Street is important for community. I know that myself and the team chatting to our wonderful customers is really important, and that for many customers that is the only conversation they may have that day. This scheme is another opportunity to foster that sense of community.
We will initially be hosting a Chatter & Natter table from 9-11am on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays.
There will be a sign on the table to enable you to know which one it is! We look forward to seeing faces leaving a bit brighter and happier than when they arrived and to hearing your experiences of this initiative.
If you come in at an alternative time and would like other customers to join you please do ask for the table sign and we can give it to you.
If you know someone that would benefit from a Chatter & Natter and isn't able to get to Thornbury, then do visit The Chatty Cafe Scheme website as they have a searchable map for finding other establishments getting involved.
PS. If you'd like to hear this conversation from Woman's Hour on loneliness just click here. It's a really interesting listen.