For a number of years, I’ve been working to get communities (and older members) talking to one another. So often I would see people sitting by themselves and I would think that some are probably very happy catching their breath where others are wishing that they had a way of becoming part of what was going on around them. Whenever I talked to people about why this happens I would hear things like ‘I don’t want to intrude’ and I realised that talking to strangers is no longer acceptable and that we all need help in breaking down some of the barriers we have created.
I became really aware of this was back in 2007 when I began volunteering on Christmas day as a Handybus driver for the elderly. I noticed what a difference a communal Christmas meal could make for people in a particular area who would otherwise not have met. It built friendships that extend far beyond Christmas day to the whole year and, I hope, continue to this day.
So, I started a charity called Community Christmas, and began to provide visibility to the network of Christmas events that go on, as well as supporting new ones to get started, which would eventually build a network of older people who meet for tea and coffee. Now I want to extend that network even further.
That’s where Coffee Companions comes in. Put plainly, we exist to get people talking. We encourage that talking by letting people indicate whether or not they’re in the mood for a conversation with our handy Chat Mats. More on that later!