The free fortnightly gathering in Worthing is designed for people who feel isolated, giving them a place to meet up for a cup of tea and a chat for a couple of hours.
It was set up by life coach Linda Randall, with the help of a grant from the Co-op Local Community Fund and was also one of the first projects to receive the new Grass Roots grant from Worthing Community Chest, plus a donation from Worthing Lions Club paid for a festive meal at Christmas.
Chattie Café meets at Maybridge Keystone Centre, in Raleigh Crescent, and regulars come from as far as Rustington and Sompting.
Linda, project manager, said: “I feel that we have lost so much of our community care and wellbeing. Isolation is becoming more prevalent and leads to depression and other mental ill health issues.
“This is a small support but it could save a lot of misery, encouraging social interaction, developing community awareness and creating friendships.
“In this busy world, we have to take responsibility for our wellbeing but we also need provision to engage with.”
Meetings are held every other Thursday from 4pm to 6pm, with the next being held on February 6.
Linda started Chattie Café in September, meeting 6pm to 8pm, but she felt for the winter months, the earlier times would better suit.
The second meeting of the month usually has a guest speaker, with Karan Smith from Guild Care being the choice for January 23, and the first meeting of the month has an inspirational theme, led by Linda.
Linda said: “It is about having a place to go to and building a community. It is for anyone aged 18 and over who feels quite isolated.”
The idea developed from the IT Junction meetings held at the centre on Friday mornings for people who need help understanding technology.
Linda explained: “I noticed it was mainly older people and they weren’t coming for the IT, they were coming for a cup of tea and a chat. So, I suggested starting the Chattie Café.
“The volunteers have had training in active listening and safeguarding. The idea is that one of the volunteers will befriend people and chat to them when they come for the first time. Our focus is wellbeing and good mental health.
“It is helping to rekindle social skills. I know you can walk down the street in any town and see two or three people who could do with a friend, and it is about finding a way to engage with them.”