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Eleven Suffolk venues sign up to join the fight against loneliness

23 April, 2018 - 11:00
Sarah Shaw, bar manager of The Greyhound pub in Ipswich. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

Sarah Shaw, bar manager of The Greyhound pub in Ipswich. Picture: ADAM HOWLETT

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Organisers of a new scheme tackling loneliness in Suffolk have been left "buzzing" after 11 venues signed up to host events - including five launching today.

Ashley Coote and partner Gary Addison are organising a Meet Up Mondays event at The White Horse in Sudbury. Picture: GREGG BROWNAshley Coote and partner Gary Addison are organising a Meet Up Mondays event at The White Horse in Sudbury. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ann Osborn of the Rural Coffee Caravan and Sally Connick from Community Action Suffolk issued a call-out for pubs and cafes to run “Meet up Mondays” just last month – and have been inundated with requests.

The “girls on a mission” to tackle loneliness said they hoped a strong response would show Suffolk is a really caring county – which is just what has happened.

First launched at The Alexandra pub in Wimbledon earlier this year, Meet up Mondays are free events for people struggling with isolation to join together in a welcoming environment for tea, toast and social interaction.

Mrs Osborn heard about the scheme and set about “spreading the generosity” to Suffolk.

Landlady Hannah Clark and Garry Clark are starting Meet up Mondays at their pub in Beyton. Picture: GREGG BROWNLandlady Hannah Clark and Garry Clark are starting Meet up Mondays at their pub in Beyton. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Together with Mrs Connick, the pair put the word out and were soon approached by Weavers Tea Room in Peasenhall, which hosted the first Suffolk event, followed by the Norman Warrior pub in Lowestoft and White Horse in Sudbury.

After publicising their ambitions for the scheme in this newspaper last month, nine more venues signed up.

One of the venues launching its event this morning is the Greyhound Pub in Henley Road, Ipswich.

Sarah Shaw, bar manager, said: “Loneliness is a bit of a modern epidemic. We live in a local community but people are getting more and more socially isolated.

The new initiative has launched to combat loneliness. Left to right, Sally Connick, Sara Benstead and Ann Osborne. Picture: GREGG BROWNThe new initiative has launched to combat loneliness. Left to right, Sally Connick, Sara Benstead and Ann Osborne. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“It is not just older people, it can be young people too who are affected.

“This is about providing a welcoming pace where people can come for some free tea, coffee and toast, to have a chat and meet some new people.

“It starts tomorrow and will run and run and run.”

Adnams, which runs six pubs across Suffolk and Norfolk, and owns dozens more, has also backed the scheme – as has The National Trust in east Suffolk.

“I’m buzzing,” said Mrs Osborn. “We couldn’t be prouder of the hospitality industry in Suffolk

and the way they are making this grow.

“They all understand that for some it might take time to build up but they have embraced it wholeheartedly and are all excited to follow the pioneering Wavers Tearoom and get started.”

Visit www.meetupmondays.org.uk or on Facebook for event details.

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