Tables for tackling loneliness

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s recently conducted research, which found that one in ten people feel lonely all or most of the time. It’s now hoping to tackle this with the launch of its new Talking Tables scheme.

The initiative is in association with the Chatty Café Scheme, which asks stores and cafes to set up dedicated tables where people can sit and have a chat.

From now until December the supermarket is setting up tables in 20 stores, including ones in Swansea and Newport, with signs encouraging customers to sit down and talk with a stranger. They’ll also be getting workers to act as chatting ‘hosts’ and will lead charity sessions too.

Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s brand, said: “We know that community connections are a key driver of helping people to live well. Yet with almost two thirds of us feeling lonely some of the time, it’s important that we contribute to helping to improve the lives of our customers and communities. We hope that by bringing people together at our Talking Tables, we can utilise the potential of our store-space to help people be better connected to the communities they live and work in.”

Another member of the Chatty Café Scheme is coffee chain, Costa. It also did some research and found that 63% of people are hesitant to start a conversation with someone they don’t know, but 75% say they’d like more real-life conversations.

Costa has introduced dedicated ‘Chatter & Natter’ tables where people can sit if they’d be up for talking.

Victoria Moorhouse, Head of Community and Sustainability at Costa Coffee, said: “It is clear from our research that although we appear to be talking less as a nation, there’s a real desire for people to actually have more face-to-face conversations around the country.

“Our coffee shops have always played an important role within communities, acting as a hub for people to meet, spend time together and most importantly, talk. With loneliness and social isolation on the rise, feeling part of a community is more important than ever.“And that’s exactly what the Chatty Café scheme is all about – we understand the importance of conversation and we want to help make it as simple as possible for our customers to open up, have a friendly chat and bring local people together within our stores.”

The ‘Chatter & Natter’ tables have been rolled out across 300 Costas nationwide.

We think the Chatty Café Scheme is a fantastic idea and a great way to tackle social isolation. We are big advocates of helping the lonely, especially the elderly, and it will be a great way for individuals to get out of their house and meet some new people. We’ll be actively encouraging our service users who are mobile enough to get out and take part in the scheme.