Reflections

In my day job I’m a social worker, a profession that embeds reflective practice in everything we do. We are encouraged to reflect on our assessments, conversations, how we handle situations, our training; pretty much every element of our work. I find reflection a useful tool and can feel quite enlightened when I think back on a situation and realise things I could have done differently or something that worked particularly well.

The Chatty Café Scheme has been one big reflective process in which I’m in a constant state of thinking about what needs doing, what I should have done and if I am missing anything. What’s tricky is I don’t have an exact template to follow, I can google how to set up a Community Interest Company, how to apply for funding but there is no guidebook directing me how to run the scheme, instead I’m learning as I go along, testing the idea, shaping it as I go along.

I’m really lucky to have my sister Jenny helping out and already I can see the benefit of having other people involved mainly because they are not as emotionally attached as me and therefore able to make hard core decisions which I will deliberate for months.

Primarily, I know the website needs work; to say the premise of the scheme is so simple, the website feels too complicated. I know how I want it to look and feel and as the scheme is gaining more international interest it needs to be easily translatable.

Things that are on my to do list:

  • Design a logo that can be recognised worldwide – I have now advertised a competition on social media to help with this!
  • Get the website looking better which will include adding terms and conditions for venues wanting to join – this will help ensure venues genuinely want to connect people. Also create a better way for people to search for their nearest Chatter & Natter table
  • Apply for funding to employ a project manager
  • Develop Chatty Wednesday and promote it
  • Diarise set dates for the newsletter
  • Work on how we can reduce loneliness & get people chatting which is above all our number one priority (and should really be number one on this list)

I wanted to share this on a blog because it feels like we are in this together. Your encouragement and support keeps me going and I want to be open and honest with what I’m trying to achieve.

Also – thank you SO much to all the journalists who have given us some AMAZING coverage recently and THANK YOU to everyone supporting us whether you have signed up your venue, sat at a Chatter & Natter table, told someone about us, liked us on social media or just read this to the end! YOU are keeping this movement going and I seriously love you for believing in it.

That’s all for now but if anyone has any other things you think need adding to the to do list feel free to get in touch.

Alex J

Comments (5)

  1. Alex you could create Chatty Cafe Ambassadors in each town who could help with expansion and spread the word especially from their own experiences. Also people interested in the scheme could contact them and get first hand accounts of ho

  2. Hi Alex. I want to set up a Chatty Cafe on a Wednesday at Cafe Nero in Newbury but no one is answering my emails. I need to know if cafe Nero should apply, or me? And to whom does the publicity stuff get sent?
    Thanks
    Gillian

  3. This is such a wonderful yet simple idea! I wonder if you could link up with Time to Change, contact MIND and community bridge builders around the country. Your idea is stunning and can very much envisage this being part of every day life around the country…a brilliant way to create better communities and get people talking again. Oh how I miss the 70’s where children played with one another out in the streets and parents chatted and made each others children sandwiches and drinks and arranged street parties! I wish you every success with Chatter and Natter I really do.

  4. Hi Alex
    I hope you and Jenny are keeping well and you are working through your To do list

    One query which I have is how do you evaluate the project, how do you receive feedback?

    We’re trying a version of the cafe up in Forth Valley, we cannot charge as the local environment would not cope with that so its very much a shoestring affair. To enable future funding we would need evidence and I hope to get volunteers to engage with staff but is there anything else you did?

    I hope you don’t mind my query?

    Jim

    1. Hi Jim, we have come up with a few questions which we ask the café owners, for example “does anyone use the Chatter & Natter table”, “what do they think are the benefits for them as a business”, we ring round and ask these same five questions and the feedback is really interesting. We also receive phone calls and messages from the general public telling us about their experiences.
      It is so difficult because everyone wants evidence but a big thing for me is being firm that Chatter & Natter tables need to become embedded in society and for people to become familiar which can take time. I suggest mentioning reducing loneliness, getting people chatting, connecting the community, showing residents the café is a welcoming, community orientated place and maybe saying you will ask staff and customers for feedback. Hope that helps a bit! Thanks so much, Alex

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