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Scheme to combat loneliness launches in the Braintree District

MeetUpMondays is a ‘loneliness busting’, simple idea that actually has the capacity to change lives.

Local cafes, restaurants and pubs are urged to offer a couple of hours of free toast (or whatever they choose) and a cuppa to people who are fed up with their own company; whether you are a new mum, or have just moved to the area, or are retired.  The meet up is for anyone and gives people a chance to meet others and connect more with their community.

Businesses 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 may also consider offering a table quiz or some games as an ice breaker to encourage introductions and let the chatter happen.

The first ‘Meet Up Mondays’ in the Braintree District will launch on Monday 29th October at Cool Beans in the Gardens at Braintree and Bocking Gardens from 9.30am-11.30am. Residents will be offered one free drink and table games will be available. The owner of Cool Beans, Rachel McMillan, is looking forward to launching the scheme, “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, Cabinet Member for Health & Communities said, “In the same week the Prime Minister launches the Government’s first loneliness strategy we recognize the importance of trying to combat this problem in our own district. Three quarters of GPs surveyed have said they are seeing between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness, which is linked to a range of damaging health impacts, like heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Research shows that loneliness is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015). Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month. 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.”

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