6 months later

Chat Cafe Local has taken account of the last 6 months.

On day 1, 8 friends supported me as I prayed for just 1 person to come into the cafe and at 12.20pm Marie came in, and chat club was the medicine her soul desperately needed.

One month later members were coming and returning. Small communities began to build and members began asking if they could become volunteers.

By month two we welcomed Mary, our 200th attendee. We laughed and made a crazy video ‘Things that make you go OOOOoooooow!’

One volunteer became a Trustee.

The timetable was readjusted and a few venues and more people came. By month six, swelling numbers around chat tables were filled with a constant flow of different people.

In April, clubbers began having days out in nature. First we walked around Stanpit Marsh. The sun was glorious and our time together breathed fresh air into our lives. Next we walked from Coy Pond to Bournemouth PIer, then had  a large Teddy Bear’s picnic in Boscombe Gardens, followed by the Queens Platinum Jubilee Street Party. That was the first time it rained but the weather was the least important thing as all 3 towns laughed and cheered around the long table. 

 

I imagined people individually wearing pin badges in BCP  but never - all together. 

 

Everyone just gets along - empathy is a powerful thing - and it definitely  kills shame.

With a trip around Hengistbury Head, Christchurch Quay, Highcliffe Castle - there arn’t any traces of shame around our tables.

 

New people become members daily and have such a lovely time. Us ‘old members’ welcome them in and not forgetting how overwhelming our first time was.

 

The numbers have increased and the emails from other areas are struggling with loneliness greatly, so we expanded and planted 3 more chat clubs in 3 more towns.

 

Today 1658 members have attended chat clubs, we have 12 chat clubs including a doggy chat and chill club, in 6 towns, where 28 communities have been built around our managed 28 safe cafes.

The website receives approximately 1000 new hits per month, this shows the demand and people considering making changes.

Our cafe owners are reporting that lots of people are coming during their working hours and having a coffee.

 

So far the idea of Chat Cafe Local has stopped 3 suicides, one non-verbal member can now speak. Cancer victims, amputees, transgender, wheelchair users say ‘they feel normal.’  We’ve had a birthday party, a few long term reunions, a funeral, a mindfulness session, 8 workshops on cancer prevention, 5 hospital Director visits, a CMHT nurse speech. A dementia talk is being planned alongside a beach party.

Chat Club is amazing, calm and is a wonderful incentive to get people out of home and regaining confidence, building strong communities and forging friendships. When people build their confidence, their values return, and managing life, making plans and becoming creative too.

Members are really proactive, one has written for the Echo, 12 have recorded on Radio Solent, another is about to appear of Benefits Britain. They always talk about what they want evry day, how they want chat club to grow. They deliver leaflets and promote Chat Cafe Local whenever they can. We are all on the lookout for people who are still struggling with loneliness and social isolation and prompting them to come with us. We are aiming to plant three more chat clubs in Ringwood, Verwood and Weymouth by the end of October.

We are always on the look-out for new volunteers and potential trustees. A members panel is building, walking groups, a crochet group and two of our members are now attending an EDAS training course.
One of our volunteers is now motivated to study a one year Drug and Alcohol Course.

Two volunteers are now trustees.

 

A recent survey concluded that none of this would have been possible without that first Chat Cafe Local invite and a big gulp of courage to get in through that first chat club door.

People who have never attended CCL stated that just knowing there is somewhere to go 6 days a week, makes them feel more hopeful.

Chat Cafe CIC has  received charitable status now, so my 6 months of funding this project has come to an end, we can begin fundraising, this will cover future plans and  extensive backroom operations.

 

Chat Cafe Local is a massive operation with nearly 2000 attendees, 685 members, 6 newsletters under our belt and memories, confidence galore.

Our volunteers love their jobs and together, they, I,  and all our members know that we all belong in Chat Cafe Local and have an active, important role within Post Lockdown life.

 

Mental and physical healths have improved, people feel hopeful and inspire others.  Social isolation and exclusion is a thing of the past for CCL members.