Spotlight on Older People – 20th March – 23rd April 2017

Alliance Product

Chat Mats from Coffee Companions really are for anyone, anywhere at any time – especially when mind reading doesn’t work. However, some people will feel nervous or daunted by the idea of sitting there with a Chat Mat on their table waiting to see if someone will join them – that is why Coffee Companions also includes the notion of Companions Hour. Locations that register via the website will be listed so that those either living in or visiting the area can see who is particularly happy to welcome new and existing customers wanting to chat. In the longer term this will have a nominal monthly cost to encourage locations to keep their listing up to date (we don’t want someone to pluck up their courage, perhaps venture out for the first time in a while, and then be turned away) but for the next 3 months (at least), locations can ‘give it a go’ for FREE with no long term obligation.

  • For the location this may be a way to fill the empty tables at a time that is normally quiet.
  • For individuals this can provide a stepping stone to something more – new connections or a place to eat when cooking is unappealing.
  • For groups this might provide a chance to talk to potential new members, chat through ideas with a new group of people, or simply provide a focus for a group outing.
  • For business locations this might provide an easier alternative that arranging a full on Randomised Coffee Trial.
A sense of humour can become hidden if there is no one to share it with. Following a conversation about ageing at a Companions Hour one of the regular attendees dug out the poem ‘When I am an old woman I will wear purple’ to share. The following week one of the older regulars came along dressed from head to toe in purple! When locations register they get a window sticker to help let people know the time of the Companions Hour. This can provide a reason for a local community listing which may be free, and we are happy to share information on social media, and in our other press coverage, to help build the impact for all. We also provide some disposable Chat Mats for giving out to customers at any time – some put them on the tables between the salt and pepper, others put them by the sugar, and yet others give them out at the till as they serve customers. Whatever approach is taken we love to get feedback to share with others and develop our thinking. During a Companions Hour conversation turned to books that individuals were reading. This created interest in trying authors and genres that individuals had not tried before. It became a feature of this group that as they finished a book they would lend or give it to others creating common interests across the age gap of over 50years. Some have pointed out that coffee can be expensive or not to everyone’s taste. Anything that brings people together is encouraged, even a glass of water. Where cost is an issue then a great initiative called Suspended Coffees might be the answer. They suggest a small act of kindness in the form of those that can afford a coffee to ‘buy one forward’ for someone that can’t. The possibility of a location combining both initiatives so that everyone, regardless of income, can have a coffee and a chat is truly exciting. Caroline Billington
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