A CAFÉ in Holywell is encouraging its customers to sit down and talk as part of a national scheme to help combat loneliness.

The Coffee Bean, based on Holywell High Street, has set up a weekly time slot where customers can sit down to signal that they are open to having a chat.

The Leader:

The Coffee Bean, based in Holywell

Sarah Kennedy-Ratcliffe, the café owner, said: “I got involved because I liked the idea that the scheme is inclusive, it is open to anyone.

“Often, we think of loneliness when we talk about older people but you can be young and isolated if you don't work or are a carer or stay at home mum, there are many reasons really.

“The Chatter & Natter space runs from 10.30am until 12pm and creates a space for people to talk; whether it is for five minutes while you have a drink or an hour of good conversation. It is not about making friends, just having good old-fashioned human interaction.

“You just need to turn up on a Wednesday morning you don't have to sign up or register. Children are welcome. Cost isn't a barrier, all that's asked is a donation.”

Sarah added that people can help facilitate the morning by volunteering to be a meet and greet, making people feel comfortable and to get the conversation started.

The Leader:

Sarah Kennedy-Ratcliffe outside the Coffee Bean in Holywell

The scheme, running at the venue every Wednesday, is part of the wider project called The Chatty Café programme.

Alex Hoskyn, the founder, told the Leader how the idea for the Chatty Café came about after visiting a supermarket café with her son Henry.

She said: “I looked round the café and saw an elderly lady who looked just as down as me and on another table sat a young guy with additional needs and his support worker both looking like they had run out of conversation.

“I started to think about the positive impact we could have had on each other if we had sat together.

“I know from experience that when you are feeling lonely, a short conversation with another human can really brighten your day and I realised that you can be out of the house all day yet have no interaction with another person.

“It was there and then that the Chatter and Natter table idea began but now it is a reality. There are now more than 900 cafés across the country.”

Scheme’s across North Wales have seen several Costa Coffee stores dedicating a table, including branches in Mold High Street, Buckley Central Precinct and Prestatyn Shopping Park.

The venture has since gone global, with four Chatty Café’s launched in Canada and a further 21 cafés showing support for the project in Gibraltar.

For more information about the project, or to find your nearest Chatty Café, go to the Chatty Café website.