This morning, Costa Coffee have announced that we will be rolling out the Chatty Café Scheme in over 300 of our stores across the UK. This launch is something that myself and Alex have been working together to achieve, and I couldn’t be happier to see so many of our stores marked on the Chatty Café map!
I work as part of the Sustainability team at Costa. We are the team who manage the company’s sustainability programme, called Force for Good. The programme is split into three sections, and ‘Community’ is the central pillar. This includes the big commitments we have made to fundraising for the Costa Foundation, supporting customer wellbeing through our work on nutrition, and making a difference to our local communities.
My role focuses on the ways that we can make the most meaningful impact on the communities where we operate, through our nationwide Community Programme. I work in collaboration with our amazing network of store teams to find ways that we can support communities in practical, lasting ways. The Community Programme is a really important part of the way Costa works, from the big initiatives we run in lots of stores to the smaller projects that our teams organise to meet the needs of their specific communities. I feel incredibly lucky to work in such a unique and rewarding role, where I am able to work with people like Alex on initiatives that really benefit communities across the UK.
Alex and I first talked about Chatty Café last summer, when she got in touch with my team to ask whether we could have a few Chatter and Natter tables in her own community. I loved the idea straight away; having worked in Costa stores for several years, I’ve seen how much a quick conversation in a coffee shop can mean to someone who is lonely. It quickly became clear from our first trial stores that the Chatty Café Scheme was really addressing a growing social need, and that our teams loved being involved. Lots more of our Store Managers wanted to take part, and over the following months we reached about 20 participating stores.
For me, one of the highlights of being involved in Chatty Café so far has been the launch of our 25th store, Costa Southwater Square in Telford. Back in April, I visited the brilliant team at Southwater Square, and could see how much they were looking forward to getting started. They had even bought board games to encourage people to join in! Having the opportunity to sit with Alex and talk to Jim Hawkins (BBC Radio Shropshire) about the scheme was such an incredible experience. Alex’s passion for the scheme combined with the store team’s enthusiasm made for an emotional and inspiring day!
More recently, my main efforts have been focused on how we can help more of our teams to become Chatty Cafés by connecting them with local groups who could best use the tables, providing them with the resources they need to promote the scheme, and finding some of the most suitable stores to participate. After lots of planning and preparation, I am so excited that there are now hundreds more Chatter and Natter tables in action!