AN AWARD-WINNING café scheme has been launched in the visitor centre beside Caerphilly castle to encourage people of all ages to engage in friendly conversation, writes Corey Aunger.

The 'Chatty Café' initiative aims to combat loneliness by bringing people together through dedicated ‘chatter and natter’ tables in cafés.

Such a table can now be found at The Twyn.

Martin Cook, general manager at the visitor centre, says they are “delighted” to be able to offer the service.

“To reach out to those who feel more vulnerable or intimidated is a good thing. The table takes down lots of barriers," he added.

Mr Cook says that the visitor centre is the “ideal location” for the scheme with its “very friendly, relaxed and open environment”.

The new ‘chatter and natter’ table has been introduced following proposals by the Caerphilly 50+ forum to introduce the initiative in the Visitor Centre’s coffee lounge.

Ralph Stevens, chairman of the 50+ forum, said it was “clear that the concept would apply to all ages”.

The group opted to use the visitor centre because two of their members recommended the location.

Mr Stevens said: “It is an excellent venue, with helpful and friendly staff; an excellent location for having a friendly chat.

“Hopefully, this example will serve as a model for other cafes to join the scheme.”

The Chatty Café scheme won this year’s Innovating for Ageing award in January, which is an award set up by Just Group to identify solutions to vulnerability in later life.

It was created by Alex Hoskyn in March 2017 with more than 1,000 cafes signing up since then, including Costa Coffee and Sainsbury’s.

Caerphilly county borough council was the first local authority in Wales to get behind the scheme last November.

Cllr Carl Cuss, cabinet member for social care and well-being, said: “Providing a welcoming environment for people of all ages is hugely important and I hope this new chatter and natter table will bring people together to enjoy a coffee and a chat on a regular basis.”