With such a range of challenges to our city’s economy, security and communities facing us currently, I often wonder where to start.
However, sometimes the answer lies in simple solutions to the bigger issues. Often these don’t require new council services but support for and encouragement of community-led approaches.
These help to harness the positive approach of the whole city to deliver a shared community benefit.
One such example of this is an email I received a few weeks ago. One resident, along with a small team of support from a church, wanted to help people at risk of social isolation. Their proposal was TableTalk – a simple idea to encourage cafes to designate a table (with a small sign) as a place where people could sit for a chat with a fellow customer.
The idea has really taken off, with over 25 cafes offering TableTalk tables either throughout the week or on certain days and times across the city.
I went along a couple of weeks ago to have a TableTalk at the Cornerstone Community Café in Hove. There I had a great time talking to Sue Epps, whose idea the whole scheme was. She has almost singlehandedly tried to bring our community across the city closer together – with almost 300,000 residents imagine how much better the city would be if we could all say the same.
Being socially isolated can affect the physical health, mental wellbeing and independence of those who experience it. It isn’t limited to the older residents of the city either. Many younger residents, often moving to the city away from their usual networks, also describe the effect.
I’d like to thank Sue and One Church for their innovative work in the city. It’s everyone’s city – so let’s make our community a little stronger in these challenging times. If you see a TableTalk sign while you are out and about on your travels, please consider taking the time to stop and make contact with someone – it may be as good for your wellbeing as it is for theirs.
Details can be found on www.tabletalkbrighton.org or fb.com/tabletalkbrighton. If you are a cafe who would like to join the TableTalk campaign please email firstname.lastname@example.org