Charity hoping Lichfield and Burntwood residents will use chat mats to help combat loneliness

People in Lichfield and Burntwood are being urged to back a project aiming to combat loneliness among elderly people.

Charity the Friends of the Elderly is asking people to use ‘chat mats’ to show people they’re willing to talk.

A chat mat on a table

A chat mat on a table

The mats have been created by Coffee Companions and have ‘Say hello and have a chat’ on one side and ‘Not today, maybe another time’ on the other.

Steve Allen, from Friends of the Elderly, said: “We know that loneliness has a devastating impact on older people’s lives – chat mats give people an opportunity to walk into a coffee shop and be reassured that they can expect a warm welcome and a chat with someone.

“More than five million older people in the UK are affected by loneliness, and, with this set to rise by 40% over the next 15 years, we hope these mats can help people to feel less isolated and more connected with the people around them.”

Friends of the Elderly is promoting the mats as part of the Be A Friend campaign.

Founder of Coffee Companions, Caroline Billington, said: “We want to change the culture where everyone goes into a coffee shop and just sits on their phones or laptops.

“We’re not mind readers and we don’t know when someone would be happy to chat or not. Chat mats let people know you are open to conversation and remove the invisible barriers that prevent us from engaging in our communities.”

For more information visit or call 0845 003 0630. A temporary chat mat can also be downloaded here.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.