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From reducing social isolation to ensuring social distancing

Posted on 30 March 2020

It feels like we should all be writing diaries and documenting this experience. Maybe this epidemic will be taught about in future history lessons and students will look to our accounts for their assignments. 

I know everyone is thinking it but what an unbelievable time we are living in; who would have ever envisaged schools being closed, exams stopped, parks shut, empty streets. Many of us have spent the last few years encouraging social interaction and now we are urging the nation to stay away from each other. 

Yet as challenging as it can feel, there also seems to be an air of positivity and creativity. A period of calmness, stillness and reflection. There will of course be people out there who are not able to experience any positives at the moment, those who live alone, who feel frightened and isolated and it is for these people in particular that we need more than ever to think outside the box and do our best to reach them. 

There are good news stories everywhere of neighbours supporting each other, shops delivering meals to the people most in need. Interestingly, the word ‘vulnerable’ is now being used more than ever. It’s a word I particularly hate as so many people are quickly labelled with it just for being over a certain age, having a disability, or being in “a category”, which does not account for individual strength, capability, resilience, skills etc. I would prefer it if the vulnerable categories we are using in relation to coronavirus stated “vulnerable to coronavirus” rather than just “vulnerable”. Even though it irritates me I also know now is not the time to argue over semantics but nevertheless, I’d be interested to know your thoughts. 

It would be absolutely brilliant if what comes out of this virus is an outbreak of community spirit, maybe we will feel more confident to borrow a cup of sugar from our neighbours and those people living amongst us who have felt invisible will now be noticed. I can envisage street parties, us all coming out of our houses to cheer when it is announced life can return to normal but maybe “normal” will be a new normal, a better normal, one that many of us hoped for pre corona. 

This could provide the opportunity for council services to adapt to our way of life, not life from decades ago. A new way of commissioning, a new way of people being recognised for what they can do, not what they can’t. Prioritising people over paperwork. 

The Chatty Café Scheme are going to do all we can to support our venues and the people who used to use our Chatter & Natter tables. With cafes being closed our work will start with venues once they re-open and we can publicise the hell out of them and demonstrate just how important it is that we nationally give them our custom. 

For customers we are in the process of setting up remote Chatter & Natter tables where people can come together online for a chat and a brew. For those people that don’t use technology we are on the end of the phone – 07917586160 or 07465966597. 

We are still here, and once the streets are again filled with people we will be right there supporting you to chat, to interact, to reduce loneliness and encourage social interaction. 

Speak to you soon!

Alex and Jenny 

The Chatty Café Scheme