Companions Hours

Have you ever wandered into a coffee shop or café and wondered who might be happy for you to join them for a chat? If only we were mind readers. Up until now there has been no way of knowing but a new organisation called Coffee Companions have the solution: Chat Mats and Companion Hours.

It’s really simple and there are only two things you need to know:
1. Chat Mats are for use by anyone anywhere at any time. They are a new ‘language’ for those of us that aren’t mind readers to invite others to ‘Say Hello’ (see illustration) or ‘Not today’.

2. Companion Hour provides a first step for those that want to ‘learn the language’. Although Chat Mats can be used by anyone anywhere at any time it is helpful to have focal points where they are used.

Coffee Companions founder Caroline Billington says ‘It’s not much good speaking French if no one else does and so we want to encourage more and more communities to provide a place for people to go where Chat Mats are recognised as a way of communicating.’ Participating locations have a regular Companions Hour each week when you can turn up and join in the conversation.

Newbury & Thatcham

The following cafes host regular Companion Hours every week:

Coffee#1, Parkway, Newbury   3-4pm Monday 21 August
Empire Cafe, Cheap St, Newbury   10.30-11.30am Tuesday 22 August
Kings Cafe, The Broadway, Newbury    3-4pm Wednesday 23 August
McDonald’s, Northbrook St, Newbury    6-7pm Thursday 24 August
Courtyard Cafe, The Broadway, Thatcham    2.30-3.30pm Wednesday 23 August
Pineapple Cafe, Lower Way, Thatcham    3-4pm Thursday 24 August


Why are Coffee Companions needed?

In a world where people check their phones an average of 85 times a day and spend more than 8 hours a day on an electronic device, the more traditional ways of communicating seem to be getting lost. Research also shows that 53% of people have never said hello to a neighbour.

Coffee Companions has a mission to create connections, building communities, letting others know when their company would be welcome – starting with a cup of coffee. Who knows where those conversations might lead? Finding out where the nearest yoga class is, identifying an unknown plant or a book recommendation. A cup of coffee, or tea, is so much more enjoyable when accompanied with a friendly chat.

Here are some examples of how local people have benefitted from Companions Hours:

– two ladies at a local arts venue café Companions Hour were discussing shows they had seen. The conversation then moved on to the other activities on offer and they ended up deciding to go along together to a ‘modern dance for adults’ taster session. Starting with a cup of coffee but leading to improved physical health and new social connections.

– a group of students were compiling a piece of theatre based on the history of the local town. A local Companions Hour was largely made up of pensioners and the students decided to join them. The joy in those sharing memories and being of value was palpable. As a thank you for their input they were given free tickets to the show. It started with a cup of coffee and led to a trip to the theatre.

– as well as helping to start new relationships, Chat Mats are also bringing people back together. Two friends were recently reunited after using their Chat Mats. Ann, 90, and Jane, 83, used to go on holidays together with their late husbands before losing contact. Ann said, “It was a lovely surprise to go for a cup of tea and, quite by chance, to find Jane was there. We are now talking regularly on the phone again, even when we can’t meet up.”

For more information about Coffee Companions

For more information about Coffee Companions, to download a free Chat Mat and to find out if there are Companions Hours near you, please visit

If there isn’t a participating location near you then please get in touch via the website to get help and guidance on setting one up.

For more information please contact:

Caroline Billington
[email protected]
07954 440241



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