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Chatty Cafe Scheme at Fountain Cottage Cafe, Bellingham

Posted on 6 July 2023

By Natalie Finnigan@NatFinNews

Jane Morton (above left), Cathy Smith (above right) and Danielle Hudson, co-owner of the Fountain Cottage Cafe and Bnb in Bellingham.

A SCHEME offering warmth and companionship has been taken up at a village cafe.

The Chatty Cafe Scheme is the UK’s leading non-profit organisation tackling loneliness and is designed to bring those who may be isolated together with others in the community.

Jane Morton and Cathy Smith joined forces with the owners of the Fountain Cottage Cafe and Bnb in Bellingham to sign up for the national initiative and use the business as a base to bring people together.

The underlying principle of the project is that every week on Tuesday from 10.30am until 12pm, strangers can meet up for a cup of tea and hopefully become friends.

The first meet up took place on July 4.

Whether you turn up alone or with a friend, you can be guaranteed a warm welcome and are free to stay as long as you wish.

Jane, a retired district nurse, and Cathy, a retired teacher, both live in Bellingham and along with the Fountain Cottage co-owner Danielle Hudson, have seen people suffering from chronic loneliness in the community.

Jane, Cathy and Danielle’s lives have also all been touched by dementia in one way or another and are acutely aware of the ensuing loneliness that can develop.

The trio want to get people involved, either by joining in as hosts for the scheme or attending the sessions to help form friendship groups.

Cathy said: “I would like to think someone would be doing something like this for my mum if she needed it.”

Jane added: “It’s such a simple fix. A cuppa and a natter could be a lifeline to someone.”

Jane and Cathy said: “Bellingham is a very friendly community, it is welcoming to all – we want to ensure that nobody slips through the cracks and misses out.

“We are working with the local GP practice and many other service providers to put feelers out and let people know of the new service that is developing in the village.

“We are wanting to develop a voluntary transport scheme for those who are unable to get to the venue alone. Currently, we can only offer very limited help – but we are looking for voluntary drivers who would help us expand this service. Mileage will be paid.”

Contact th********************@gm***.com for more information.