Sitting here writing this I can’t help but feel unbelievably proud of everything the scheme has achieved in the past four years. Before Covid we worked hard to spread the word about our Chatter & Natter tables which were popping up around the UK for customers who were happy to sit with other customers. The tables were gathering momentum, more venues were joining and thanks to some fantastic media coverage and the incredible force of many members of the public, the tables were becoming part of UK café culture.
Then Covid hit.. our wonderful venues had to close and the world stood still. We were unsure at first what to do; we knew we needed to support the venues and be here in the background for when they could reopen but what else could we do to help people right now?
The answer was to start weekly chatty zoom sessions where we could bring people together from around the UK. The first took place in March and we have no plans of stopping.
We also decided to start weekly phone calls to people who might be in need of a good chat. It was important to us that the calls had no agenda and could be about anything and everything. We also wanted to be available to anyone age 18 and over as we know from personal experience that people can feel in need of human interaction at any stage in their life. At first it was our Operations Manager Jenny doing all the calls but as we got more and more referrals we had to think bigger! We then brought in a Volunteer Manager who began our wonderful volunteer programme and we now have 67 volunteers making calls to 132 people around the UK every week.
A few weeks ago we asked Social Prescribers for feedback about our services and it was emotional. The overwhelming themes are that people are hugely benefitting from attending our zoom chatty cafes and receiving weekly calls. People look forward to the calls, feel connected to the volunteer, feel brighter and happier after a chat. Importantly, many people said they felt lonely and/or isolated before Covid and were ineligible for many services because they didn’t meet the criteria.
Jenny – Operations Manager and Abi – Volunteers Manager are the backbones of the scheme. They are truly dedicated to what we do and I know that so many people are feeling better as a result of their work.
THANK YOU to all our volunteers and to the people attending our zoom chatty cafes. THANK YOU to the people receiving weekly phone calls – our volunteers get as much from the chats as you do so you really are supporting each other.
THANK YOU to Jenny and Abi.
Bye for now.