We’re delighted to host Meet Up Mondays, where those who might otherwise be on their own for days or even weeks at a time can come into the pub and enjoy some free coffee and snacks, and good company.

Here, the wonderful Beryl Beech, at 90 years young, writes about the importance of the scheme, which has become a popular fixture in the pub. Come along on a Monday from 10am to 11.30am, or get in touch with the pub to find out more. [Dan Lightfoot, landlord of The Greyhound, Ipswich]

By Beryl Beech

Meet Up Mondays is a campaign set up to combat loneliness in towns and villages. The reason these meetups are so important is that loneliness is described as being as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

The response has come from pubs, coffee shops and cafes across Suffolk, who have offered their facilities not just to increase their customers, but to open the door to a familiar place where people can chat. And they do talk a lot!

The Greyhound was quick off the mark to offer its support. The landlord and bar staff are keen to help with arranging the space and the tea and coffee as people arrive.

Our group was popular and developed quickly into a routine of bringing homemade cakes and pastries to everyone’s delight, and especially of the men living alone. Some people bring their dogs, so they get pampered, too.

People proudly show off snapshots of weddings long ago; they reminisce about comic happenings from employment or forces’ days. One tale leads to another, and there is lots of laughter.

‘Everyone joins in’

I was asked by the management at The Greyhound to take on the role of “Greeter” to welcome people as they arrive. Many arrive somewhat hesitantly the first time. I smile and say: “Hello, what is your name?” and then lead them to tables with early arrivals.

People in wheelchairs or who are blind need a little extra care as they come in, but everyone joins in and soon make the newcomers feel at home.

We have been open for about 18 weeks, and most of those who came to the early meetings are still coming. It is great to see peoples’ confidence increasing weekly, especially for some who have not been out of doors for some time owing to hospitalisation or other reasons.

The local authorities and BBC Radio Suffolk have been supportive in giving publicity to what they recognise as a needful cause which is being met so spontaneously.

Long may we live!

Landlord’s note: Some local business have been kind and offered trips out for our Meet Up Monday regulars. If your business can help, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at info@thegreyhoundipswich.co.uk. ”

How wonderful is that!

If you are a hospitality business and would be interested in helping to combat loneliness in your town or village by hosting MeetUpMondays (or MeetUpTuesdays or Wednesdays – we have ways to support MeetUps on any day of the week), then please get in touch! You can read more information about the MeetUpMondays network here.

If you’re looking for MeetUpMondays near you – take a look at our map and list of current locations and why not pop along to one?

Do you think your local pub, café, tea room or hotel lounge would be a great place for MeetUpMondays? How about sharing this article with them and asking them to get in touch with us to see how we can support them!