Sainsbury’s trials new initiative to encourage community connections

In a bid to help people build a closer support network within their community, Sainsbury’s will be trialling Talking Tables, a new initiative designed to help facilitate more conversations and bridge community connections in store.

It comes as new research from Sainsbury’s latest Living Well Index, developed in partnership with leading researchers Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research, reveals the UK’s sense of wellbeing has fallen in the past twelve months – with loneliness identified as a key characteristic of those with a low sense of wellbeing.

The landmark study of over 8,000 people reveals one in ten Brits feel lonely all or most of the time – equivalent to almost six million adults across Great Britain. Over a third of us have admitted to feeling lonely some of the time (42 per cent) – with this figure increasing to almost two thirds (65 per cent) amongst young people aged 18 – 24. The results also show a significant decline in people’s perception of their community and support networks – revealing the importance of strong community connections on our overall wellbeing. 

Talking Tables has been developed in close association with the Chatty Café Scheme – which was founded by Alex Hoskyn, who came up with the idea whilst in a Sainsbury’s café. It will be trialled in 20 stores in various formats  – including a simple format with a sign-posted table located in cafés in-store, a variation where colleagues who’d like to be involved can volunteer to be table hosts, and a charity-led format where stores will partner with community groups and work with their volunteer networks to host scheduled sessions. Sainsbury’s will also be trialling the programme internally with colleagues by setting up Talking Tables in back-of-house areas in its stores, depots and Store Support Centres.

Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand, believes the new Talking Tables initiative – which will see tables in selected cafes designated for customers, colleagues and those in the community to share a conversation together – will help to bridge the loneliness gap by bringing people together. 

She comments, “We know from our Living Well Index that community connections are a key driver of helping people to live well. Yet with almost two thirds of us feeling lonely some of the time, it’s important that we contribute to helping to improve the lives of our customers and communities. We hope that by bringing people together at our Talking Tables, we can utilise the potential of our store-space to help people be  better connected to the communities they live and work in.”

The Index sheds light on those most at risk of feeling socially isolated – which includes young mothers, young single men, single people living alone with health problems, and out of work individuals who are living with others. It also addresses key ‘predictors’ amongst some of Britain’s most lonely revealed in the Index –  including factors such as eating alone most or all of the time (#1), using social media for more than seven hours a day (#2), and not feeling satisfied with their sex life (#4).

Sainsbury’s new Talking Tables initiative will be trialled in around 20 stores across the UK from October to December.

More information from results on Sainsbury’s latest Living Well Index can be found at www.about.sainsburys.co.uk/living-well-index.

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