A teacake and a hot cup of tea could be the key to tackling loneliness on the Fylde coast.
Two cafes in Blackpool and Hambleton are poised to become ‘Natter Shacks’, where people of all ages can meet for a chat over a spot of afternoon tea, in a bid to help fight off the scourge of social isolation.
MoJos Coffee Shop on Band Road, Blackpool, and Little Simpson’s Tea Room on Brichhouse Lane, Hambleton, are among 12 Lancashire coffee shops set to join the scheme in the new year.
Tracey Smith, who founded the first Natter Shack in Barrowford, said: “I was out with my daughter having a meal and I noticed that everybody sat around were all alone with their coffees, and I thought how ridiculous that we were all sat around with none of us chatting. The next week, I approached the venue about having a get-together once a week.
“It’s about getting people out of the house combating loneliness and improving people’s mental well being.”
The Natter Shack already holds meet-ups in Burnley, Pendle, Clitheroe and Skipton, united under the slogan ‘take a seat and see who you meet’.
Tracey said: “I was just going to set up the one venue, but people were crying out for more. I didn’t know there was such a need for it.
“Loneliness is a huge problem. People think it’s just the elderly, but I’ve had so many messages from men and young mums. In the age of the internet and mobile phones, I think people aren’t used to being conversed with. That’s what I’m trying to change. Say hello, spark up that conversation and let’s get people talking again.”