Chatty Cafés, Chatty Benches and Men in Sheds pilots set to launch in September
• More than 30 businesses and community groups pledge support
Newham residents who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness are being encouraged to get involved in one of three new pilot schemes, as part of a campaign aimed at tackling loneliness and social isolation. It is hoped the action will also inspire people to support others within their community, by simply taking the time to stop and connect.
The ‘Be Connected’ programme incorporates opportunities for residents to open up conversations, within spaces they may feel most comfortable. Newham’s Community Neighbourhood Link Workers are launching three pilots – Chatty Benches, Chatty Cafés and Men in Sheds. They are partnering with more than 30 businesses and organisations that have all pledged their support to tackle loneliness in the borough.
Councillor Mumtaz Khan, Deputy Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care said:
“We know small spontaneous interactions can change the way we feel and make a big difference in all of our lives.
“These moments of connection can have an enormous impact on someone’s day and contribute to the wellbeing of our community. This could be anything from saying “hello”, stopping for a chat on a bench or asking someone how they’re feeling over a cup of tea.
“Every one of us can make a difference to someone, and together as a community we can help reduce isolation and build a more connected Newham.”
Figures show one in five adults in the borough feel lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’ – that is more than 70,000 people. Although loneliness is not always visible, it forms a significant part of many people’s lives. Some people can go for days, weeks or even months without speaking to another person.
People who want to connect will be able to sit on a ‘Chatty Bench’. Signs have been installed in various locations across the borough to help bring local people together by simply sitting down and having a chat outdoors, in their local environment.
For the chillier months, residents can turn to a Chatty Café. The idea is to encourage customers to sit at a designated table if they are happy to talk to others, especially those who may be on their own. One that has already signed up is the East Ham branch of the Indian street food restaurant, Chaiiwala.
Rahil Mohammad, Chaiiwala Store Manager said:
“Our ethos is centred on community, warmth, and connection. Partnering with the Chatty Café scheme in Newham is a reflection of that. We are thrilled about this opportunity.
“We hope this partnership will help brew stronger bonds among residents in Newham who experience loneliness and isolation.
“We would welcome anyone who is feeling alone to head to our café and get chatting.”
The third and final pilot which, unlike the others, is targeted at one particular group is Men in Sheds. It is essentially based on making the most of community spaces so men can connect, converse and create. The activities that will take place will be similar to those of garden sheds, but for groups to enjoy together.
All three pilot schemes are based on nationwide initiatives which are running successfully in various parts of the UK. In Newham, they will be launched as part of the Be Connected Programme on Wednesday 6 September.
For any further information on the pilot schemes, please visit www.newham.gov.uk/BeConnected
Published: 14 Aug 2023