Let’s get talking during Loneliness Awareness Week!

Thursday 30 May 2024

Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network are marking this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week by hosting three pop-up ‘Chatty Cafes’ in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus on Thursday 13 June between 10.30am – 2.30pm.

Hosted by Marmalade Trust - Loneliness Awareness Week is an annual campaign which raises awareness of loneliness and gets people talking about it. The aim is simple: to reduce the stigma of loneliness and encourage people to talk more openly about it. This year’s Loneliness Awareness Week will take place between the 10 – 16 June 2024 and the theme is Random Acts of Kindness. 

The venues for the three pop-up ‘Chatty Cafes’ are:

  • Carrickfergus – Pop Up Shop, High Street, Carrickfergus
  • Larne – St Cedmas Parish Hall, Church Rd, Larne BT40 3EU
  • Ballymena – Start 360 Hub Space, Wellington St, Ballymena BT43 6AB

The idea of a ‘Chatty Café’ is to encourage venues to designate a table and make it available as a chatty table where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers.

The events being rolled out by Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network aim to tackle loneliness and reduce isolation by creating opportunities to talk and interact. The ‘Chatty Cafes’ are one off events to raise awareness and tackle loneliness locally. 

There will be information stands at each event hosted by Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network member organisations.  For a full list of permanent ‘Chatty Cafes’ which meet each week please visit our MEA Loneliness Network page.

"These are three great events to mark Loneliness Awareness Week - promoting understanding and kindness” said Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network Chairperson Marjorie Hawkins “I can reassure people that if they are feeling isolated they will get a big welcome if they come down to any of our three pop up venues to have a chat.  You never know what people are going through and a bit of laughter and conversation can lift everyone’s spirits.   I really hope these events will encourage more people to reach out and take that first step.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “One in three people in Northern Ireland are likely to experience feelings of loneliness in their lifetime.  I would encourage anyone feeling lonely to come down and enjoy a cuppa and a bun while having a conversation and meeting new people. You never know who you might get talking to and a nice chat can mean the world to someone.”

Anne O'Reilly Trust Chair, NHSCT added: “It’s fantastic to see the three pop-up  ‘Chatty Cafes’ open during Loneliness Awareness Week. It is such a simple idea which produces amazing results by just talking and communicating with others.”

Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network launched in December 2019 and is made up of a range of community voluntary and statutory organisations who all work together to prevent and address loneliness. The Network has a year-long action plan for 2024/25 which includes a maintenance programme of Chatty benches and a social media campaign for 2025.