Do you fancy a chat?

By Sonia Isaacs

Social isolation and loneliness are acknowledged as a significant issue in Australia. Chatty Café Australia suggests one in four people experience a sense of loneliness and social disconnection every week, while the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported over half of surveyed respondents indicated they felt lonelier since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking to build friendly social connections in a relaxed way that may help brighten up someone’s day, Chatty Café is a positive global initiative that will be launching locally in Maleny from Tuesday April 11.
Lions Club of Maleny Blackall Range member John te Kloot said he was keen to ignite the scheme locally, following conversations he had with the founder of the Australian chapter of the Health Promotion and Harm Reduction Charity. He said although it was a stand-alone concept, separate to Maleny Lions Club, a number of members were extremely supportive and keen to get onboard.
“They say Maleny is one of the friendliest towns in Australia, so we want to help people find that friendliness,” John said.
Every Tuesday (except public holidays) from 10.30am-11.30am, Chatty Café volunteers will host a ‘chatty table’ inside Maleny Library where people of all ages and walks of life can drop by, enjoy a coffee/tea and chat with others in a welcoming, safe and relaxed environment. Organisers are keen to spread the word, and also request people who may know of others feeling lonely or isolated in the community to encourage them to head along to the free weekly event.
Maleny Lions club member Mark Henderson said he and his wife Margy were happy to be involved, and looked forward to meeting people around the area for a chat. He said, although he didn’t have facts and figures to hand, anecdotal evidence suggested there were many people locally who may be feeling lonely or isolated. He said the idea to hold the Chatty Café at the Maleny Library was mainly because the venue provided a comfortable and easily accessible space in the centre of town.
“We can create a friendly and welcoming, yet discreet spot here where people can easily drop by and sit and have a chat. Anyone is welcome, it may be a new comer to town or retiree who hasn’t had the opportunity to meet others or someone who may have lost their partner or confidence to socialise after the COVID isolation – we are here to talk but importantly to also listen,” explained Mark.
To find out more visit chattycafeaustralia.org.au or contact John te Kloot 0428 600 838.

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