Talking Tables: How a drink and a chat is changing the lives of the lonely in Chorley and South Ribble
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Marjorie Hayward, who founded the Talking Tables initiative last year, was speaking after the latest expansion of the project, which sees cafes across the two boroughs provide a guarantee of company at a fixed time each week.
The service is now available at more than a dozen venues after it arrived in Buckshaw Village at Cafe Cappuccino on Unity Place last week.
Marjorie hopes that Buckshaw residents who feel isolated in their own homes will find the same solace as those who have embraced the concept in other areas.
“People are saying it has changed their lives. They tell me how Talking Tables has changed them from being a lonely person into someone who has got friends that they can meet every week.
“The original group has taken on a life of its own – and now they go away for weekends together, they meet for lunch and go out to dinner in the evenings. It fills my heart with joy to see their faces when they tell me all that they have been doing,” Marjorie smiles.
The idea was born out of an attempt to encourage people who had been shielding during the pandemic back out into society. And while Marjorie says that many are still rightly Covid-cautious, there is now a little more confidence amongst people to enjoy meeting up once again.
She believes that the scheme is also helping to alleviate an unseen loneliness that existed long before lockdown.
“Some of these people have been isolated for a long time, but Covid really exacerbated that loneliness.
“We have about four or five people who have no living relatives at all and live absolutely solo lives. That was the case before the pandemic, but somehow it made that loneliness feel more acute.
“Loneliness really has become much more of a problem during the last two years and Talking Tables offers people a way out of it.
“It gives them some reason to get up of a morning and to get showered and dressed. And the difference between my scheme and other ‘chatty cafe’ initiatives is that we provide volunteers to be there to welcome people in – so there is always someone to talk to even if nobody else comes along that day.
“I also train the table leaders to watch out for anybody hesitant at the cafe door and tell them to go over and check if that person has come for Talking Tables, in case they are a bit daunted when they first arrive.”
Marjorie, who also runs the Friends for You befriending service in Chorley, is keen to see Talking Tables continue to expand – with plans for more new venues in the coming months, particularly in South Ribble.
WHEN AND WHEN YOU CAN GET A DRINK AND A CHAT
Majestic Café, Market Street, 10.30am
Greggs Cafe, Preston Road, 10am
Café Ambio, Astley Road, 10.30am
Cafe Cappuccino, Buckshaw Hub, Unity Place, 10am
The Meeting Place, Chorley United Reform Church, Hollinshead Street, 10.30am
Lucy’s Kitchen, Chapel Street, 10.30am
Taste Cafe at St. Laurence’s Church,Union Street, 11am
Café Connect, Living Waters Church, Bolton Street, 10.30am
Rococo Café, Chapel Brow, 10.30am
RAFA Club, Golden Hill, 11am
Leyland Market, 1.30pm
The Hideout Cafe, Sumner Street, 10.30am
RAFA Club, Golden Hill, from 7.30am
St. Andrew’s Church, Church Road, 10am
Priory Community Centre, Priory Lane, 10.30am