The Chatty Café Scheme encourages cafes and other venues to have a ‘Chatter & Natter’ table where customers can sit and start a conversation.
The COVID-19 pandemic compounded the problem of loneliness and isolation across the generations. So, the Chatty Café Scheme hopes to foster a sense of connection, giving people a chance to meet and talk to others.
Already proving hugely successful, more and more cafés are joining the Chatty Café Scheme to reduce loneliness and isolation in their area. With the aim of bringing people together from all walks of life, almost 1,000 cafes are already part of this fantastic initiative.
What the Chatty Café Scheme is all about ‒ fighting the issue of loneliness and isolation
Loneliness and isolation are bigger problems today than ever before. In the internet and social media age, it is harder than ever to foster a sense of community and real-life human connection.
Therefore, the Chatty Café Scheme seeks to fill that void by giving people a chance to open up and have a conversation somewhere they feel comfortable ‒ their local coffee shop.
Alex Hoskyn is the founder of the scheme, which she was inspired to start after experiencing her own unexpected period of social isolation.
She writes, “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.”
Looking around, she saw an elderly lady and a young guy who looked just as lonely as she felt. She continues, “I started to think about the positive impact we could have had on each other if we had sat together.
“I know from experience that when you are feeling lonely, a short conversation with another human can really brighten your day.”
A nationwide initiative‒ help for many people experiencing loneliness
From a simple idea back in 2017, Hoskyn began the Chatty Café Scheme with the ‘Chatter & Natter’ table as her main focal point.
Fast-forward five years, and there are now over 900 cafés, pubs, libraries, and hospitals across the UK that have a ‘Chatter & Natter’ table. Costa Coffee is the official partner of the scheme. So far, there are around 440 Costa outlets in the UK involved.
On the website, Alex explains, “A Chatter & Natter table creates a space for people to talk, whether it is for five minutes while you drink a brew or an hour of good conversation.
“We’re not trying to build friendships – just simple interactions to combat loneliness and to just maybe have a big impact on someone’s day.”
Bringing the conversation home ‒ for those who can’t get to their local café
The Chatty Café Scheme team are aware that not everyone is able to make it to their local café. So, they host Virtual Chatty Cafés on Zoom every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 1 pm.
The virtual conversations last around 30 minutes. They offer people a sense of connection when they don’t see anyone else all day. There are also Chatter & Natter Weekly Calls for those who can’t access the Virtual Chatty Cafés or make it to a coffee shop.
Social Prescribing teams refer clients across the UK to the Chatty Café Scheme. The team then arrange for volunteers to call people every week, at the same time, for a chat.
Find out more about this fantastic initiative here.