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Organisers of Meet up Mondays to tackle loneliness want to make it a ‘household name’

PUBLISHED: 07:34 04 June 2018

Ann Osborn, pictured left, with Sally Connick, is delighted by the response to Meet up Mondays  Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ann Osborn, pictured left, with Sally Connick, is delighted by the response to Meet up Mondays Picture: GREGG BROWN

A tide of generosity has swept across Suffolk where more than 20 venues are hosting sessions in the fight against loneliness.

Ashley Coote and partner Gary Addison host Meet Up Monday events at The White Horse in Sudbury    Picture: GREGG BROWNAshley Coote and partner Gary Addison host Meet Up Monday events at The White Horse in Sudbury Picture: GREGG BROWN

Organisers of Meet up Mondays are “delighted by the enthusiastic response” to the scheme, which was launched earlier this year.

Ann Osborn from the Rural Coffee Caravan and Sally Connick from Community Action Suffolk issued a rallying call two months ago for venues to take a stand against loneliness and “show Suffolk is a really caring county”.

Since then, they have been inundated with requests from cafes, tearooms, pubs and even a bingo hall looking to get involved.

The idea is to is to give people who may struggle to meet others at least one day each week to get out and socialise.

Hannah Clark hosts Meet up Mondays at the Bear Inn in Beyton   Picture: GREGG BROWN1Hannah Clark hosts Meet up Mondays at the Bear Inn in Beyton Picture: GREGG BROWN1

Venues provide free tea and toast and a welcoming atmosphere without labelling people lonely.

The Angel Inn in Woodbridge, which joined the scheme last month. Landlord Chris Mapey said he tried to keep the sessions flexible. “The big driver for us is that we have always seen the pub as that great place where people go to meet others and have new experiences,” he added. “However that seems to have been lost a bit recently, with social media and people staring at their phones. It’s about getting people together and showing them that there like-minded people going through similar difficulties.”

Other venues to sign up include The Smock in Ipswich, The Rec Cafe in Stowmarket, Clare Antiques and Interiors and the Mecca Bingo Cafe in Ipswich. The Butcher’s Arms in Knodishall, near Leiston, is to host its first event today, while the Turks Head in Hasketon is due to start hosting sessions from next week. The Rose Inn in Shotley is to host its sessions on Tuesdays.

Mrs Osborn said it had started a chain reaction of kind gestures.

Sarah Shaw, bar manager at the Greyhound pub in Ipswich, which also hosts Meet Up Monday events    Picture: ADAM HOWLETTSarah Shaw, bar manager at the Greyhound pub in Ipswich, which also hosts Meet Up Monday events Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

“Kindness does indeed begat kindnesss,” she added.

“We honestly believe this really does have the most enormous potential and it’s our ambition to make MeetUpMondays a household name.

“There is honestly no catch. If you are fed up with looking at the same four walls, find your nearest one and pop along, meet new people, make new friends. It would also be lovely if folk who like a good chat would drop by and simply be there so that the more anxious, for whom it’s a big step, will definitely have someone ready and willing to chat to. We would encourage everyone to spread the word. And potential hosts, please get in touch.”

Visit Meet up Mondays for information.

The Rec Community Cafe in Stowmarket is hosting Meet up Monday events. Picture: THE RECThe Rec Community Cafe in Stowmarket is hosting Meet up Monday events. Picture: THE REC

List of venues:

Weaver’s Tea room , Peasenhall

Chilli Farm, Mendlesham

The Bear Inn, Beyton

The Greyhound, Ipswich

The George, Hadleigh

Boos Bar, Bury St Edmunds

Farmers Kitchen, Alburgh

Norman Warrior, Lowestoft

White Horse, Sudbury

Steakhouse Red Lodge

Coastguard Cottages Tea Rooms, Dunwich

Clare Antiques and Interiors

The Deben Lounge, Debenham Sports and Leisure Centre

Barleycorn, Mildenhall

The Smock, Ipswich

The Angel, Woodbridge

The Rec Community Cafe, Stowmarket

Mecca Bingo Cafe, Ipswich

The Butchers Arms, Knodishall

The Turks Head, Hasketon (From Monday, June 11)

The Rose Inn, Shotley (From Tuesday, June 12)

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