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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Cullybackey community tackle loneliness with chatty café initiative at Blessings

A new ‘chatty café’ initiative has been launched at Blessings Coffee House in Cullybackey in collaboration with Bann Maine West Community Cluster and Cullybackey Community Partnership, in a bid to tackle loneliness within the local community.

The launch of the pilot project, a first in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) area, was attended yesterday (Tuesday 31 August) by Health Minister Robin Swann, Northern Trust Chief Executive Jennifer Welsh, and Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey.

According to a recent study published by the Mental Health Foundation, the number of people experiencing loneliness more than doubled over the last year with almost a quarter of adults in the UK having felt lonely as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The survey also revealed that four in ten (44%) of young people aged 18-24 have have struggled with loneliness.

The Chatty Café Scheme began in the UK by encouraging cafes and other venues to have a Chatter & Natter table which is where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers.

Health Minister Robin Swann heard from village community representatives who shared how loneliness and social isolation are being tackled in the area.

Joanne Brown Kerr, Community Development Officer at Bann Maine West said:

Bann Maine West (BMW) Community Cluster are delighted to pilot a Chatty Cafe project in partnership with Blessings Cafe in Cullybackey.

“This simple concept is all about providing a space for people to chat and to encourage everyone to be more aware of those affected by loneliness and to bring them out for a chat.

“Bann Maine West are a member of the Loneliness Network which was set up in 2019 bringing together Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, the Northern Health & Social Care Trust and other relevant organisations.

“The idea of the Chatty Cafe came about after discussing the real issues during this pandemic of loneliness and after researching how successful chatty cafes have been in other areas outside Northern Ireland, the idea progressed from there.

“Bann Maine West work together with community groups in the Bannside area of Ballymena and know only too well how important it is to tackle this issue and really look forward to further promoting the Chatty Cafe along with other projects and initiatives to tackle loneliness.”


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