According to the Office of National Statistics it is estimated that over two million people in Britain experience chronic loneliness.
Chronic loneliness is defined by Age UK as a persistent state of isolation and not speaking to a friend or family member for at least a month.
There are many others who are lonely to a lesser degree, and the situation is not limited to the elderly. A survey of 10,000 adults revealed that 10% of 16 to 24 year olds are often lonely.
Dependence on the internet, texting, and applications like Twitter and Facebook do little to establish real friendships. There is no substitute for good old face to face contacts and having a good old chinwag – that’s the mantra behind a new charity cafe idea for the Island.
Sandown Conservative Club treasurer, Alan Jones, was looking for a way to make their already friendly club even better when he stumbled upon a Sunday newspaper article about the “Chatter & Natter Café” scheme. As a result, Sandown Conservative Club is the first club anywhere to become a member.
The club will be introducing the scheme at an open weekend on Saturday (August 11) and Sunday (August 12).
The scheme has at least one table designated as a “Chatter and Natter” table where anyone can sit and meet new friends for a chat over a drink. It is great for new members, who perhaps are new to the island or the club, and want to meet people, or perhaps those who are just a bit shy or lonely, and feel unsure about joining a table with someone they don’t really know.
Mr Jones is so keen on the idea and the health benefits that he is looking for cafes and clubs on the Island who would like to join the scheme, which is the brainchild of Alexandra Hoskyn, who became lonely after the birth of her son.
The scheme is rapidly gathering momentum, although most of the activity has been based in the north of England so far. That is about to change with a national chain of coffee shops starting to adopt the scheme, and Alan intends the Isle of Wight will be at the forefront of the expansion “down south”.
Ms Hoskyn set the scheme up with the help of various grants and donations.
Participating outlets get a pack of leaflets, posters and a table card and holder for a nominal fee of £10 per annum. This includes a business listing on the Chatty Cafe Scheme website.