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Tackling Loneliness and Social Isolation: An Evaluation of the Chatty Café Scheme Services

Posted on 1 June 2023

Dr Jennifer Ferreira, Dr Kexing Li. Coventry University. May 2023.

Purpose of the report

The Chatty Café Scheme is designed to encourage conversation, and allow people
to connect to reduce the feelings of loneliness or social isolation. Evidence suggests
that loneliness and social isolation affects a large proportion of the UK population,
with these experiences being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At the Chatty Café Scheme, we believe that simply having a chat with someone can
really brighten their day. As humans, we have a need to be with other people.
Research tells us that being connected to others is important for both physical and
mental health. Social connectedness has proven links to lowered rates of anxiety
and depression. It is also known to increase feelings of belonging, purpose,
happiness and wellbeing.”

The Chatty Café Scheme began as a way to connect people in places like cafés by
having a designated table for people who were willing to talk to each other. This has
grown to a network of Chatter & Natter tables across the country, but has also
expanded to virtual Chatty Café sessions online (via Zoom), as well as a telephone
friendship service. The human-centred approach that guides these activities,
facilitated largely by volunteers, is taking place to try to reduce experiences of
loneliness or social isolation, improve social mobility, and support people to create

In order to understand the impact of the Chatty Café Scheme on the people it
provides for (beneficiaries), a research project has been established. The project
was formed of two key stages. Initial surveys have been used to gain insights into
views from beneficiaries of the Chatty Café Scheme services, volunteers, venues
that host Chatter & Natter tables, and the wider general public. This was followed by
more in-depth research including interviews with those involved, and further surveys.

This report explores the findings of the research. We believe this report helps demonstrate the impact of our work and we hope you find it useful!