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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Three new Chatty Cafés for Larne!

Barbara Ann and staff alongside Mayor, Cllr William McCaughey, Yvonne Carson NHSCT and Deborah Neill, MEA Loneliness Network member.

Three new Chatty Cafés have opened in Larne – with the Salvation Army (Main Street), The Prom Café (Larne Leisure Centre) and Barbara Ann’s Home Bakery (Fairhill) now playing a key role in helping to tackle loneliness across the borough.

The initiative has been a big success since its launch at Blessings Café in Cullybackey earlier this year.

The purpose of the project is to encourage venues to designate a table and make it available as a ‘chatty table’, where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers.

The scheme, being rolled out by Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network, part funded by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, aims to tackle loneliness and reduce isolation by creating opportunities to talk and interact.

It follows the success of the Chatty Benches initiative, whereby bright yellow benches in a number of Council’s public spaces provide opportunities for conversation in the outdoors.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, officially opened the new Larne Chatty Cafés and said afterwards:

“One in three people in Northern Ireland are likely to experience feelings of loneliness in their lifetime.

“Throughout this difficult year of lockdowns, isolation and restrictions on our social activities, human contact has been limited, which has impacted our mental health.

“The challenges the pandemic has created in terms of creating loneliness in communities is something that the Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network aims to tackle.

“I was delighted to attend the launch of the Chatty Cafés for Larne and look forward to seeing many more established across the borough.”

Yvonne Carson, Thematic Lead for Loneliness and Social Isolation with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, added:

“It’s very encouraging to see the establishment of three more Chatty Cafés in the borough. At a time when we have seen many restrictions on our social activities it’s great to see initiatives like this promoting interaction and conversation.”

Volunteers from Salvation Army alongside Mayor, Cllr William McCaughey, Yvonne Carson NHSCT and Deborah Neill, MEA Loneliness Network member.

Annemarie and Philip from the Salvation Army said:

"This is such a great scheme, promoting understanding and kindness and the Salvation Army are so proud to be involved.

“I can reassure people that if they are feeling isolated they will get a big welcome if they come down to the Main Street, call in and have a chat.

“You never know what people are going through and a bit of laughter and conversation can lift everyone’s spirits. I really hope this scheme will encourage more people to reach out and make that first step.”

Barbara from Barbara Ann’s Home Bakery added:

“Now that we are recognised as a Chatty Café, customers can enjoy a cuppa and a bun while having a conversation and meeting new people. A chat can mean the world to someone, whether it’s five minutes or an hour of good conversation.”

Staff members from the Prom Café alongside Mayor, Cllr William McCaughey, Cllr Robert Logan, Yvonne Carson NHSCT and Deborah Neill, MEA Loneliness Network member.

Louise from the Prom Café said:

“The Chatty Café is such a simple idea which produces amazing results by just talking and communicating with others. The Prom Café is proud to be involved and we know our customers will absolutely love it.”

Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network launched in December 2019 and is made up of a range of community voluntary and statutory organisations who all work together to prevent and address loneliness.

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