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The tables are being introduced today (Thursday) to coincide with national Time to Talk Day which is organised by mental health charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness.
They’ll all be signposted, along with a few ideas for easy conversation-starters, so people just need to grab a seat and get talking!
Vicki Watt at Liverpool ONE says it’s the first time they’ve been involved in Time to Talk Day, but they hope the chat tables will be so popular that they become a regular feature.
“We already have the Liverpool ONE Foundation which gives grants to community projects across the region focused on improving young people’s wellbeing, and we’re always looking at what’s out there to see how we can help and support mental health in general,” she explains.
“When we knew Time To Talk Day was happening this February, we looked into it, really liked it and decided we wanted to do something.
“We discussed it with our occupiers to get them onboard and they’ve been really positive about getting involved and providing a safe space for people to talk.”
Ten venues have so far signed up to take part in Happy to Chat today – Mamasan, Yard & Coop, Wagamama, The Gym Group, The Bluecoat, Smoke & Dough, Sky TV, Arket café, Browns and the Bierkeller.
Vicki says there will be a minimum of one table in each of these places where people can get together.
“We just want to get the city talking, and to give people a place to relax where they can bring their friends, bring their family or even just sit down and chat to someone new then hopefully those conversations will flow and that might give a bit of extra support to someone who needs it.
“On the signs it says ‘sit here if you don’t mind joining someone for a chat’ so it would be great if our visitors just took the opportunity to sit down, have a cup of tea or coffee and just wait for other people to say hello and join them.
“We’ve already had a big response on social media from young people tagging their friends and saying what an amazing idea it is and ‘shall we go down and have a chat?’ so we know it’s resonating with a younger audience but we’re hoping it will have a wide age reach so it helps as many people as possible.
“We want people to see it online and come down but also just to be out shopping in town, spot the signs and decide there and then to do it.
“With everything that’s happened over the past two years I think people are now really keen to take any opportunity to get out of the house and see people face to face again, so this has come at a really good time. We’re confident everyone will see the benefits and it will become a year-round idea where a number of venues keep designated our Happy to Chat tables.”
Not everyone’s a natural chatter, some people do find the idea of talking to someone they don’t know especially daunting, so Liverpool ONE has come up with a few suggestions to get the ball rolling.
“We’ve provided some tips about how to get the conversations started so on each of the tables in the venues that are participating we’ve got little icebreakers, which will hopefully help anyone who might find it difficult,” adds Vicki.
Here are Liverpool ONE’s top five Happy to Chat tips …
1 – Say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself!
2 – Comment on something you might have in common
You could ask what they’ve ordered; tell them your favourite drink; comment on this ‘Chatty Table’ initiative, or even the weather!
3 – Ask about something they have or are wearing
If you notice they have a book on the table, ask about what they’re reading; say something nice about an item of clothing or ask where it’s from.
4 – Ask what plans they have today or what they’ve been up to
Are they working, in college or uni? Stay at home parent or maybe working on a project that they would like to share?
5 – Tell them about you
Get the conversation flowing and talk about you, your plans, your hobbies and what you like to get up to.
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