The initiative which is being taken forward by the Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network aims to tackle loneliness and reduce isolation by creating an opportunity for people to come together for a chat. This follows the success of the introduction of Chatty Benches in the Castle Mall and in Antrim Castle Gardens which also provides a place for people to talk and interact.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross spoke of the initiative:
“On behalf of the Council I am delighted that a third Connected Cafe has been launched. It is a great initiative and I will look forward to more being established across the Borough.”
Valerie Adams, Chairperson of the Antrim and Newtownabbey Loneliness Network commented:
“This launch has been realised by the participation of Banh Boy and their collaboration with the Keeping Connected Sub Group plus the ongoing support of Castle Mall, Antrim. Banh Boy is the first Connected Cafe in Antrim and we are aware that other cafes in other towns in the Borough are showing interest in the concept; we anticipate additions to the Connected Cafes (Chatty Cafes) in the very near future. I want to thank all involved for their vision and integral role in addressing loneliness in the Antrim and Newtownabbey Council area.”
The Loneliness Network comprises of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council alongside others in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors. The Network aims to raise awareness of loneliness, share best practice and learning on ways to prevent and address loneliness, and encourage championing of tackling loneliness across the Borough.
Leah Glass, Health and Wellbeing Locality Lead at the Northern Trust explained
“Loneliness is becoming an increasing problem and, as well as affecting quality of life, it can also lead to health difficulties. Although this is a small gesture we’ve found that even small actions like this can make all the difference for people and give them the opportunity to make important connections. Working in partnership with the community means we can work together to address the health and social care needs of our local population and make a real impact on the ground.”
Gerard McQuillan from Banh Boy added:
“I’m very happy for Banh Boy to become part of the scheme, we have become part of the local cafe scene and have seen first-hand the importance of a place for people to come and have a coffee, bite and chat.”
For further information in relation to the Connected Cafe initiative please email HealthandWellbeingTeam@northerntrust.hscni.net or email@example.com.