St John, Caversham

Taking time over a quiet coffee can be just the thing but sometimes a chance to chat can make all the difference. Chat Mats at the 3Cs Café in St John’s Church on Gosbrook Road ensure both are available every Tuesday morning.

Chat Mats were the brainchild of Caroline Billington and spread throughout Newbury. Now, as part of the Coffee Companions project, they are available from Caversham to Cornwall.

It’s a simple idea. Order your coffee, tea or soft drink (snacks also available). Ask for a Chat Mat. Put it on your table red side up and the message ‘Not today, maybe another time’ ensures your uninterrupted coffee break. Leave the green side showing ‘Say Hello and have a chat’ and a Coffee Companion will join you.

Everyone has had times when they feel lonely and would appreciate the warmth of human company. The numbers of people for whom loneliness is a real difficulty has been recognised as a major ill in society today. Yet, to go out and break into a new gathering feels out of the question. Other people enjoy striking up a conversation at any time. Whatever your style, that is where the Chat Mat comes in.

Leave the mat by you on the table with the green side up if you would like someone to join you. And the red side if you would prefer to enjoy your drink, reading the newspaper or working your smartphone uninterrupted. People aren’t mind readers and these mats are a way of gently broadcasting the message.

The idea has been received with enthusiasm by patrons of all ages at the 3Cs (Caversham Community Café). From the oldest to the young mothers and child minders popping in after nursery, all recognised there are times when others aren’t around and they just want to get out for a bit of grown-up chat.

And the Transition Minister at St John’s, Revd Penny Cuthbert is enthusiastic: ‘The Chat Mats are a brilliant idea. It’s not always easy to tell who would like a chat and who would rather be left alone, but the chat mats make that clear. The 3Cs café is a great place for people to meet and make new friendships, and we hope the Chat Mats will help that to happen.’

Cafés like the 3Cs increasingly have a regular weekly Companions Hour when you can know that someone will be there to talk to. Watch out for posters and stickers. At 3Cs it’s from 10.30am –11.30am.

Working together, Caversham churches and Reading Voluntary Action (Champions to End Loneliness) plan to see if Coffee Companions and Chat Mats can be rolled out across all the cafés in Caversham.

Ask at the till in the 3Cs for a Chat Mat. It’s open every Tuesday from 9.30am to 2.00pm.

Chat Mat at the 3Cs Cafe
3Cs Café, Church of St John the Baptist, Gosbrook Road, Caversham RG4 8EB