‘Chatty Café’ seeks to break down social isolation and loneliness through people gathering at a ‘Chatty Table’ to simply have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee. The concept originated in Britain a few years ago, and now has arrived in Maleny, via local John te Kloot.
“A lady I know in Victoria brought the idea over from the UK, and when I heard about it I told the Maleny Lions Club who took it up,” said John.
“There are no social workers or advisors, it’s just local people and volunteers meeting in a relaxed atmosphere. The Maleny Library Manager, Amanda Kennedy, was very supportive, and kindly offered the library as a space to meet. In the future we may also move around town.”
The Chatty Café Scheme Australia, is a ‘health promotion and harm reduction’ charity, which encourages all sorts of hospitality venues across Australia to provide a shared Chatty Table, where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers and have a chat.
Chatty Volunteers, if requested by the venue, can sit at the Chatty Table to help introduce the concept to customers and chat to them. The charity provides all promotional information necessary.
So, how did it begin in the UK? The Chatty Café website explains:
The UK Chatty Cafe Scheme was created on a wet and windy day in 2017 when Alex Hoskyn was in a supermarket café with her four-month-old son, who wasn’t being great company at that moment and Alex was feeling fed up!
Alex looked around the café and saw an elderly lady who looked just as down as her, and on another table sat a young guy with additional needs and his support worker both looking like they had run out of conversation!
Alex started to think about the positive impact they could have had on each other if they had sat together.
Alex knew from experience that when you are feeling lonely, a short conversation with another human can really brighten your day and she realised that you can be out of the house all day yet have no interaction with another person.
It was right there and then that the concept of ‘Chatter & Natter’ tables in the UK began in 2017 and there are now over 1,400 venues signed up in the UK! There are also venues in Poland, Gibraltar and interest building in Canada and the USA.
Everyone has been impacted by loneliness and the feeling of social isolation at some time in their lives, particularly during and after the recent pandemic. It has also been medically proven that a lack of social interaction can be very damaging to a person’s mental health.
Mindful of this, the Maleny Lions Club is introducing the area’s first Chatty Café. Anyone feeling a bit alone is invited for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat about whatever takes their fancy. The friendly Chatty Café volunteers are there to host the Chatty Table.
Chatty Café will open at the Maleny Library at 5 Coral Street, just beside Tesch Park on Tuesday April 11 from 10.30 to 11.30am.
A Chatty Table will be hosted at the library by volunteers every Tuesday thereafter, aside from public holidays, for people to come along to this safe, discreet and quiet environment to have a friendly chat.
In addition, if you know of a family member, friend, associate or neighbour, who you feel might benefit from someone to talk with, please pass on the information about this new community initiative to help reduce loneliness and social isolation.
To find out more about the Chatty Café initiative, visit chattycafeaustralia.org.au