Sheffield mum helping people connect with others in a bid to tackle loneliness
A single mother in Sheffield is attempting to reduce loneliness and help people connect with others through an informal cafe concept.
Siobhan Louise, 31, is the founder of Connection Cafe.
Having been inspired by her own personal struggle with loneliness as a single mother, she sought to ‘bring people together’.
Siobhan said: “It is important to understand that loneliness can affect people of any age. There is a lack of being understood.
“The aim is to bring a community of people together - to be honest and open.
“People might not speak with family or friends.
“Knowing you can reach out to someone at any time and not having to wait a week to see a counsellor can be reassuring.”
Members have praised the Connection Cafe for helping their mental well-being.
Launching in January this year, individuals usually meet every Saturday at 10.30am at the Wildwood Artisan Gifts & Coffee Shop.
Sessions are informal but structural at the same time, which Siobhan believes works well.
Each week has a theme by which discussions are based around - some previous themes have ranged from passion, fears, values and well-being.
At the end of each session, time is taken to reflect on a personal level, through journaling.
Guest speakers such as creative coaches, poets and storytellers are sometimes invited to deliver a session on some weeks.
Other sessions may be away from the cafe, where the group may go for picnics, walks, evening meals or attend festivals.
The group recently enjoyed an outing to the Peace in the Park festival.
Siobhan explained how there was ‘such a variety’ of people that attend, in terms of age ranges and ethnic backgrounds.
Some are regulars while some go only on certain weeks.
Meetings typically consist of about half a dozen people but the Facebook community has around 30 members.
Through word of mouth and its online presence, Connection Cafe is continuing to grow.
She said: “We started in a little corner in the cafe. It is nice to see it evolve.”
Despite the success in its first year of operation, Siobhan does not want to lose the informal cafe feel, as she believes this is part of what makes it successful.
When she isn’t planning events for the next month’s meet ups or looking after her four year old son, she is making preparations for her own business.
Siobhan is soon to launch The Self Connection Coach where she will offer advice as a life coach.
Applying her skills, she can identify when people’s confidence begins to grow at the weekly Connection Cafe sessions.
Siobhan believes it is especially great to see individual’s confidence grow, as most people who attend come on their own.
She said: “By the end of the first session, you get to see people relax and be more at ease in being themselves.
“It is nice to see people flourishing.
“You also see friendships forming within the group.”
Siobhan has also benefited from Connection Cafe herself.
She said: “I have definitely benefited. Setting up my business got quite lonely at times. It is nice to meet like minded people, to find common ground with people who you can talk about things with.”
Individuals who may want to join the Connection Cafe group can just turn up on a Saturday morning at the Wildwood cafe.
Siobhan describes Connection Cafe as a ‘group for anyone that just wants to be seen or heard - to just feel supported’.
However, she is also aware that some may be a little weary of the concept.
If this is the case, she advises anyone who wants to know more, to message her via the Facebook group.
She said: “It is natural to feel a little bit nervous about coming along and sharing parts with others. However, we are all doing the same. The benefits you gain, meeting new connections, sharing thoughts and having support far outweighs the initial fear.”
Siobhan also encourages anyone who may want to share a story or host a session themselves to get in touch.
For more information about Connection Cafe, see: https://m.facebook.com/ConnectionCafeSocial