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Chislehurst pub launches free ‘chatty café’ for lonely guests to make new friends

Posted on 11 April 2023

Amy Clarke

Sun, 9 April 2023 at 5:00 am BST·3-min read

A pub in Chislehurst is tackling loneliness and bringing the community together by hosting group sessions for locals who are looking to meet new people – with free hot drinks and biscuits.

The Chatty Café Scheme is a non-profit organisation tackling loneliness in the UK and the Imperial Arms in Chislehurst has decided to run its own Chatter & Natter sessions.

The Chatty Café at the Imperial Arms runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12pm until 3pm and anyone looking to meet new people or to just enjoy some friendly company is welcome to attend.

The café is run purely by volunteers and there are currently around eight volunteers who organise the sessions.

Michelle Summers, a volunteer who joined after seeing the scheme on an Instagram post, said: “It’s a great way to bring the community together.

“I think it’s a great scheme and I just love talking to people.

“We are such a welcoming group and it would be great to have more people come along.

“It’s goal is to create this place where people can just come and talk to one another, rather than sit on their own, and try and brighten people’s day a little.”

Tina Bullard, landlady of the Imperial Arms in Chislehurst, explained that she decided to launch the chatty café at her pub after hearing about it on Good Morning Britain.

Instead of having a table in the middle the pub with a sign on it for the chatty café guests, she thought it would be much more comfortable for the sessions to be held in a more private environment.

The Bistro section of the pub which is an underground restaurant space which is usually only open Friday to Sunday but is available to hire out as a function room outside of these times.

News Shopper: The Bistro
News Shopper: The Bistro

The Bistro (Image: Imperial Arms)

Tina added: “Chatty café is for anyone who is a little lonely or just wants to make new friends and meet new people.”

Free tea, coffee and biscuits are available for visitors but if you fancy a glass of wine or a pint instead, you are welcome to purchase one to enjoy.

Tina also puts on a discounted menu for Chatty Café attendees offering a £12.95 meal and drink deal.

The sessions have now been running for around two months.

Michelle added: “We’ve had several people that have come in and said ‘my children have made me come here’ “We also see people that work from home who come in and they and actually find themselves isolated.

“Chatty café is a great place to come and just get out for an hour.

“You don’t have to stay for the whole three hours and you are welcome to dip in and out as you please and you don’t have to come every week – so there’s no obligation.

“The conversation’s that we have with people at the chatty café is so varied – we talk about everything and anything and everybody has something different to offer.

“I think the volunteers get as much out of it as the people that are coming in.”

News Shopper: The garden
News Shopper: The garden

The garden (Image: Imperial Arms)

Recently the chatty café team have been visited by a spokesperson from Chislehurst Golf Club who gave an informative speech about the history of the club which members thoroughly enjoyed.

Michelle said that they would like to host more talks and special events going forward.