Since the first Great Get Together in 2017, Laura Henderson has run an annual event in Llantwit Major, near Cardiff, to celebrate Jo Cox’s #MoreInCommon message.
Each year the event grew and Laura realised the importance of bringing the community together and, in particular, of reaching out to those who are lonely or isolated. She, along with a small team, decided they wanted to do more than a yearly event and so they became a More in Common group, organising all year round to bring people together. One of the key initiatives they launched was the Chatty Café.
Initially, this was a monthly event where people met up in community centres to chat and have a cup of tea together. It was deliberately aimed at those who were lonely or isolated – offering a regular, welcoming place for them to come and meet people. It quickly proved a vital place for people who were at risk of loneliness to meet, talk and make friends.
The importance of these events was highlighted during the pandemic, when many members of the community became isolated due to restrictions. The More in Common group recognised the issue and responded; they moved the Chatty Cafe to twice a month, organised a book club and arranged online events to bring people together.
For the 2020 Great Get Together the group ran small meetings across the town, allowing people the chance to get together with neighbours for a cup of tea in a safe setting. In 2021, with the lifting of some restrictions in Wales, they were able to run a more extensive Great Get Together. This included a Chatty Cafe and plant swap, with local musicians coming along to play. In addition to this they ran their first Great Walk Together – a walk around the town with readings and information to add additional interest for attendees.
For 2022 the group is planning an even larger event, including another Great Walk Together, a Chatty Cafe, plant swap and celebration of the local clothes bank.