2017 The Year of the Cafes

| Anna Eaton

As the year draws to a close, we’ve been caught up in the usual Christmas festivities and found ourselves busy racing to get things finished before 2018 is upon us. But we found a few moments to spare to reflect on a year of Ideas Hub articles and features.

It’s been a fantastic year of discovery. We’ve learnt about so many great people, projects and approaches. We were lucky enough to interview inspiring people like David Higham the Founder and Chief Executive of The Well which gives support to people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. We’ve watched and featured amazing videos including I’m Controlling It, created by young people with diabetes for young people with diabetes. And we’ve enjoyed summarising reports such as the Carnegie UK Trust’s The Place of Kindness which looks at how we can encourage kindness in our communities.

Something in common

We’ve also noticed that some of our favourite features from 2017 all have something in common – cafes. There’s the brilliant Chatty Cafes, set up by Alex Hoskyn in March following her own experience of loneliness and “craving human interaction” even though she was not socially isolated. Inspired by a trip to a local café where other people sat alone and thinking about the positive impact they could have on each other if they sat and chatted together; Alex created the Chatter and Natter table concept. There are now Chatter and Natter tables hosted in cafes around the country. The project has been so successful she’s even been featured on the Sky News in November!

We also loved talking to Katherine Brown in autumn about Local History Cafes which are community based heritage and wellbeing ‘get-togethers’ for local residents aged 50 and over. The café groups meet each month for a heritage themed presentation, activity and lots of tea and cake. We like that they encourage connections and nurture a passion for history and shared stories.

Similarly, cafes are a key part of the work the Living Well Network mental health services in Lambeth, south London. Staff who are part of the network make an effort to meet people using services in different locations outside of formal, consulting settings. They offer to meet people in cafes, not clinics, in spaces people are more comfortable in and which are convenient to them. We love this idea as it puts control back into the hands of people.

The simplicity of a warm space

The theme of cafes in health and wellbeing this year is a reminder of the importance of physical spaces for people to come and be with others. It also made me think that many of the solutions we are seeking to create connections and community are very simple and exist all around us. A warm space, an informal environment, hot drinks, good food and welcoming company.

With that in mind, the team at the Ideas Alliance wishes you all a very Happy Christmas! See you all in 2018.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski

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