Café Chat is a project based in The Isle of Skye, Scotland, which aimed to improve and expand on existing services for adults with mental health needs to offer practical, social and emotional support in an informal group setting.

Older residents sit in a circle knitting

The provision of mental health services on the island was limited, as was access to those services due to geographical distance. Café Chat provided a weekly meetup in Broadford on Skye, engaging local people looking for peer support and friendship. Once a month the project ran group activity sessions in various other locations on the island, such as basket weaving, collage making and yoga.

The geography of the island means that people live in very remote areas and particularly those who live alone and/or are affected by mental health problems can experience social isolation.

The project’s activities provided opportunities to meet new people and develop social connections. Members even found that friendships extended beyond the project activities. Café Chat became something that people had in common, so they could talk about it outside of the group when they bumped into each other in the neighbourhood creating increased connectedness in the local community.

The project’s activities helped to create an inclusive environment where participants felt comfortable to speak openly, becoming more tolerant of one another, or people they would normally not have met.

A key strength of the Café Chat project was its integration with relevant local services through creating partnerships and developing relationships with local people and services. The project lead’s involvement in the mental health forum on Skye led to the initial idea around providing additional community support within the local context.

People are learning more about each other, in a sense creating a more inclusive community. If people have very different belief systems, that they are listened to and respected.

Project participant

Funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery Scotland