A new scheme designed to end loneliness has launched in Braintree, Essex.
Meet Up Mondays will see local cafes, restaurants and pubs offer free toast and a cuppa at set times to people who are isolated or fed up with their own company, giving them a chance to meet others and connect more with their community.
Businesses in Braintree are being encouraged to invite people into a warm and friendly environment where they know they are welcome and will not stand out as being alone. Businesses will also consider offering quizzes and other events to encourage introductions and help start conversation.
The Cool Beans café, in Bocking End, Braintree is the first café to embrace the initiative with residents being offered one free drink and access to table games.
The owner of Cool Beans, Rachel McMilian, said:
I am proud to be the first venue in the district to offer Meet Up Mondays.
We are a commercial business but we are a local business and we want to embed ourselves within our community.
We are open anyway and a few extra cups of tea is something I am more than happy to offer if we can do our bit to help combat an important health issue such as loneliness.
Councillor Peter Tattersley, the Essex Cabinet Member for Health & Communities, added:
We knew this scheme was a success in Suffolk and therefore we want to support the scheme in the Braintree District.
By supporting businesses to open up their doors they are giving residents the opportunity to return at any time rather than just waiting for the next meet up.
We hope that this will also help support local businesses and complement community events within the area.
Image: Cool Beans Café, Braintree