Well to put it simply, WOW! Two weeks on from the article in the EADT and we now have 11, yes ELEVEN venues committed to MeetUpMondays in Suffolk. We have even had enquiries from other counties and 3 venues in Norfolk actively considering it as I type. A list of those about to launch can be found on our special MeetUpMondays website and Facebook page.

We could not be prouder of the hospitality industry in Suffolk right now, as we are sure this is only the beginning. Adnams have told their entire network that they support them offering MeetUpMondays and are delighted that The Greyhound in Ipswich is already on board.

Nick Collinson, General Manger of the National Trust (East Suffolk), has given the Coastguard Cafe on Dunwich Heath the go ahead and is keen to enable other NT cafes to do the same.

We are bowled over by the response to this and the recognition of need that prompts it. This idea gives businesses the chance to join the mission to alleviate loneliness and isolation in a simple, kind, generous way.

We have been asked a few questions so I’ll attempt to answer them here…

Why Mondays?

Well because it’s the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ of interminable weekends for people feeling isolated and lonely. It starts the week in an upbeat way. It’s also often the quietest day of the week for pubs and cafes so it makes business sense too.  Of course if you can’t do a Monday then how about ‘Turn up Tuesday’ or ‘Friends on Friday’?

Can Village Halls do it too?

Village Halls and Community Centres run amazing events on all different days in many communities. Meet Up Mondays is different for several reasons

  1. The pub or cafe is THERE already, no organisation required, no volunteer support needed, no rota, no hall fees, no cake baking (although I’m sure they’d love donations). This is specifically for the commercial sector to show they care too.
  2. MeetUpMondays may take a while to build up. Lonely people tend to have less confidence and become anxious at the thought of going out. It may take them a few weeks to actually get there. That doesn’t matter to a pub or cafe that is open anyway.
  3. BECAUSE they are always there is a huge part of this. People who would not normally go into a pub or cafe alone (shyness, not wanting to appear obviously alone) will hopefully make friends in an environment where they know others are in the same boat. Then who knows? They might pop in anytime. BECAUSE they can! With luck this will complement other community activities as folk become confident and connected enough to join in.

Doesn’t MuM mean it’s just for mums?

NO! It’s for ANYONE, any age, any anything! MuM is just the acronym but we have decided to avoid using it for now in case of confusion (we do love it though so hopefully we can pick it up again when the whole concept is more familiar)

Why have you got a logo? Doesn’t each business have their own Meet Up Mondays?

Yes they absolutely do. A logo is simply creating an identity to draw them together in a network and make them easy to recognise. They can use it on their marketing and we will use it on Twitter, Facebook and the website to emphasise that identity. We hope they will share experiences and ideas on these platforms as it will inspire others to join in.

I’m not a hospitality business, how can I help?

Sponsorship? Raffle prizes? Publicity? Send volunteers to help with meeting and greeting at launches? Giveaways? All these things would be warmly received.

So here we are, almost exactly 3 months since Mick opened his door and his heart to lonely folk in Wimbledon (or anywhere in fact).

I only followed him because I wanted to know if that Polish chap got his wallet back (headline news early December, remember?). I’m glad to say he did and just look where it led. I met Sally (Good Neighbour Scheme Network) and the rest, as they say, is history

May it continue to grow and fulfill its potential to make a real difference to the lives of people ‘fed up with their own company’.

Many thanks to Rebecca Cresta Photography for the fabulous photo of Joan in her red beret. (Poster girl for MeetUpMondays).

To the East of England Co-op for offering to support each host by supplying tea bags as part of their ‘Communitea’ initiative.

Tina Hannay for endless hours on designing our fliers etc and making it all perfectly print ready.

The EADT for the articles in the paper and the magazine which helped so much to raise awareness, and for their ongoing support.

Mark Murphy and Radio Suffolk for inviting Sally and I on to spread the word.

And to all our pioneer Meet Up Monday hosts. You are amazing!!


Who’s next?

Contact us via www.meetupmondays.org.uk

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeetUpMondays/

Let’s work together to end loneliness and show Suffolk to be the  ‘caring county’ it is.