By Adele Bouchardadele_bouchard
A CHURCH in Romsey has joined a scheme that reduces isolation by providing a welcoming and social space for strangers to come together.
The Beacon Café at Romsey Methodist Church is now part of the Chatty Café Scheme which provides ‘chatter and natter’ tables for customers who are happy to talk to other visitors.
The church hopes the café will attract more visitors to its volunteer-run facility on Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings.
Café organiser Cathryn Simons was inspired to sign up to the project when she visited Winchester City Mill’s café which had the ‘chatter and natter’ sign up on one of its tables.
She said: “We want to reach out to more people in Romsey who might feel lonely or isolated so they can have the confidence to come here. Going to new places is often scary and we want to assure people this is a warm and welcoming space.
“We hope more people will come along to chat and make new friends. It’s a lovely room with lots of space for wheelchairs and buggies. We get lots of new mums who come and end up building friendships with other new mums. It’s an opportunity for them to get out the house and go somewhere where they know someone will be happy to chat or help look after the kids for a while.
“We’ve always tried to make it a welcoming space but joining the Chatty Café Scheme is a way of getting the word out to people who haven’t visited us before.”
One of the 12 volunteers sits at one of the social spaces at the Beacon Café so people don’t have to sit alone. However, the team also appreciates that not everyone wants to talk or sit with others.
The café is donations only so people can pay what they can afford. Donations are split between the church, a local charity, a national charity and an international charity which are chosen and changed each year.
Despite the cost-of-living crisis, Cathryn said donations haven’t dipped, with more than £4,500 being raised through the cafe last year for the Minstead Trust, Centre Point and the Methodist relief and development charity All We Can.
The Beacon Café is open at Romsey Methodist Church in The Hundred on Wednesdays 2-4pm and Fridays 10am-midday. For more on the scheme go to thechattycafescheme.co.uk/.