The scheme was created in direct response to the social isolation felt by The Chatty Café Scheme’s Founder (Alex Hoskyn) as a new mum and on leave from a very busy job. Alex had gone from numerous conversations each day to very few and found this a difficult transition. Alex spent time with her baby going to cafes and observed the number of people who sat at tables alone or others that sat together but didn’t seem to have much to say to each other.
These observations led Alex to believe that if cafes offered a shared table where customers could choose to sit if they wanted to chat to other customers, then people may be interested in joining that table. This started the idea of cafes designating at least one table in their venue where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers, while they enjoy the venues food and drink.
The scheme addresses social isolation and loneliness, a worldwide epidemic, and offers a very inexpensive simple solution. The Scheme’s simplicity is its “point of difference” – getting people to “connect and chat” in a range of social venues such as cafes, pubs, restaurant, libraries, hospitals, community centres, church halls, retirement homes, sporting and recreation clubs – anywhere that people can safely and comfortably sit and talk, building social connections.
It is our dream to see these ‘Chatty’ tables a part of everyday café culture worldwide. Since starting the scheme in April 2017, the number of cafes offering these tables has grown rapidly. The majority are in the UK and Australia, however, venues have joined from all over the world.
We know that human interaction can have truly positive impacts on people; an interaction can make a person go from feeling ‘invisible to visible’ increasing self-worth, dignity and confidence. Talking to others can reduce stress levels, increase positivity, help people feel connected to their community, reduce physical health problems and put less strain on health services. We are passionate about having a human-centred approach as we develop and grow.