Drop in for a chat in Chiswick

Image above: Coffee and croissants

Cafe Conversations looking for volunteers

Cafe Conversations is a conversation group which meets once a week in Chiswick for a chat. Just that. No strings. It is not a dating organisation or a religious group proselytising, it is just conversation.

The idea came from Louise Kaye, who set up the weekly meetings in 2018 after she heard a BBC Radio 4 programme about how difficult it was to meet people in London and how isolated people feel as a result.

“One of the things I love about it is that you get people of all ages coming” she told The Chiswick Calendar. “When do you ever have someone in their twenties and someone in their seventies just sit down together and have a good conversation?”

Image above: Louise Kaye

The idea caught the imagination of the media and she was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about it; she set up her own website and it was all going swimmingly until the pandemic put everything like that on hold. Cafe Conversations stopped for about a year and a half, but now they are back, as popular as ever and they are looking for volunteers to host the meetings.

So people feel comfortable, politics and religion are banned, as is talking about yourself. Volunteer hosts have crib sheets with suggested questions to initiate conversations.

“We talk about things like: ‘What would be your first question when you woke up after being cryogenically frozen?’ or ‘Is is possible to live a normal life and never tell a lie?’

Usually there are eight to ten people: “people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities turn up, who would never normally meet each other.”

The host’s job is to steer the conversation, to make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute, and the sessions are not hijacked by someone who is more confident or has a particular agenda.

If you would like to go and take part or become a volunteer, Cafe Conversations take place every Monday afternoon from 3 – 4.30pm in Avanti at Bedford Corner, W4 1LD.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar