THE Chatty Cafe movement is gaining momentum on the Mornington Peninsula, helping people connect with others over a cuppa and combatting the “loneliness epidemic”.
Under the umbrella of the Chatty Cafe Scheme Australia, the charity encourages hospitality venues across the peninsula, such as cafes, restaurants, clubs, pubs, community centres, libraries, churches, schools, aged-care residences, retirement villages, neighbourhood houses, pubs, hotels, clubs, wine bars and art galleries to provide a shared Chatty table where people can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers.
Peninsula coordinator Jacky Howgate said May was a good time to warm up over a cuppa and a chat by popping into a participating venue and discovering the social and health benefits of social interaction.
Howgate said volunteers contributed to the scheme, with facilitators often starting group conversations.
“A chat can make all the difference. … I’ve read a few very good books on grief, loss and bereavement lately and one section about loneliness really jumped out at me,” she said.
“It’s a timely reminder that a chat over coffee and a kind word or gesture can make all the difference to someone who may be feeling isolated, lonely or even fearful at mixing with new people, especially in these post-COVID times.
“One quote from the book, Living with Bereavement, by Sue Mayfield, says that ‘loneliness can make us yearn for reconnection’. So, once again, thank you to all our volunteers who host the weekly tables and to everyone else who is helping us to grow chatty on the Mornington Peninsula and beyond.”
The scheme is always looking for volunteers and adding new venues to the list. So far, the scheme is operating in dozens of cafes and venues all over the peninsula as well as in Frankston.