'A cup of tea and a natter brightens the day' - Simple scheme to fight loneliness in Norfolk gets ready to launch
PUBLISHED: 21:45 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 21:53 24 April 2018
It is a painful emotion which permeates into the lives of more than 40,000 people in Norfolk alone.
But steps are being taken to tackle loneliness - which some studies peg as more dangerous to obesity - with the launch of a new scheme encouraging all to get together and get talking.
Meet Up Mondays was first started at The Alexandra pub in Wimbledon earlier this year and since has taken off as a country-wide phenomenon.
Now coming to Norfolk for the first time, the free events will be aimed at people struggling with isolation who can meet for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat.
And all kinds of venues are being encouraged to sign up to fly the Meet Up Mondays flag.
The concept is simple, every Monday for two hours a venue - whether a cafe, pub, library, or office - open its doors to allow people to come in for a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich in a bid to tackle isolation and loneliness.
The first Norfolk event will be at No 8 Thorpe Road, in Norwich, on April 30.
Sarah Daniels, from venue No 8 Thorpe Road and health and safety consultants RedCat Partnership, said: “I first came across Meet Up Mondays on Twitter and felt compelled to follow the Alexandra Pub in Wimbledon. I then got chatting to Mick - whose idea the meet ups were.
“We discussed the ups and downs, and the logistics of making it work. And I thought this sounds like a fabulous idea and it fits with other initiatives that both my businesses are aligned to.
“The key was getting some like-minded souls to help, and the rest they say is history. We are good to go.”
She said over the border in Suffolk the scheme had already taken off.
Mrs Daniels said: “It shows there is a real need to bring the community back together in a risk-free environment. We often forget the positivity of just being listened to and a friendly smile. As my Nan always said, a cup of tea and a natter brightens the day.”
And it is not only the elderly affected by loneliness - carers, those with poor mental health, and young mothers are also groups identified as suffering the most.
A recent study by the Office for National Statistics found that young people aged 16-24 felt lonely more often than any other age group of adults.
Norfolk cancer charity The Big C and rural mental health charity YANA and this newspaper threw their support behind the project from day one.
Nikki Morris, Big C deputy chief executive, said: “Loneliness can affect anybody at any time. I’m delighted to support this new initiative in Norfolk - Meet Up Mondays will enable people to share time together, reducing isolation and promoting friendships.
“Local people helping other local people – it’s what we do best in Norfolk.”
Jo Hoey, from the YANA Project, added: “We know that one of the problems of living and working in rural areas is the isolation which can impact on mental health.
“Meet Up Mondays is already proving to be very popular in other areas of the UK so it is terrific news that it is starting up in Norfolk too.
“We have numerous pubs, cafes, libraries and community centres across the county which would provide wonderful meeting places for this brilliant but simple concept.”
All are welcome to the launch event at No 8 Thorpe Road on Monday, from noon to 2pm - whether a venue looking to host an event or just to see what it is all about.