The Chatty Cafe Scheme
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.
I know from experience that when you are feeling lonely, a short conversation with another human can really brighten your day and I realised that you can be out of the house all day yet have no interaction with another person.
It was right there and then that the ‘Chatter & Natter’ table began (in my head and dreams to start!) but now it’s a reality. There are now over 900 cafes!
A Chatter & Natter table (now renamed as ‘have a chat’ 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.
Although the aims of the scheme are to reduce loneliness and get people chatting we decided not to use the word loneliness on any of the publicity that is displayed in cafes.
Instead it is very positive and focuses on bringing people of all ages and from all walks of life together. We want to mix everyone up!
We are very proud to share that in January 2019 we won the Innovate in Ageing competition. This is a national competition to find innovative solutions to an ageing population and the judges liked our scheme because it is simple and effective!
In March 2020 we were runners up in the Governments Nesta Tech To Connect Challenge which was looking for solutions to tackle social isolation through technology.
Did you know a recent survey found that over 75% of us would like more real-life conversations. So let’s get talking!