WHILE Christmas is usually a time for getting together with friends and family, it can often be a lonely time for some.

But a new scheme at a Hexham-based charity has already started tackling social isolation in the Tyne Valley.

The charity, based in the town’s Burn Lane Industrial Estate, has introduced a weekly scheme inviting local people to get together and enjoy a natter while tucking into their lunch.

The Chatter and Natter Table Scheme, held each Wednesday, is part of a national initiative which now has more than 900 participating cafes up and down the country.

It was instigated by a young mother who, feeling a bit fed up on a cold and miserable day, looked around the cafe she was sat in and saw an elderly lady sitting on her own, looking equally as down. On the table next to her, a man with additional needs and his support worker were sat in silence having run out of conversation.

Thinking about the positive impact bringing all three of them together, the Chatter and Natter scheme was brought to life and rolled out at cafes nationwide.

It is a scheme which caught the attention of those at Adapt, and seemed an ideal addition to the charity’s Cafe @ Burn Lane, which has proved a big hit with the community since being opened a matter of 18 months ago.

Adapt, which aims to improve the quality of life of disabled people who have sensory, physical and learning disabilities or mental health problems, has been delighted with the uptake of the scheme since its recent introduction.

Liz Prudhoe, the charity’s director, said: “Developing Cafe @ Burn Lane and the adjoining Resource Room has given us the opportunity to expand our offering to the local community.

“The cafe, which opened in April 2018, has gone from strength to strength and is proving to be a real hub for people to come along and enjoy some good food and a bit of company in a relaxed space.

“The recently launched Chatter and Natter Table Scheme has been well received and complements some of the other sessions taking place here, such as the Coffee Thursday drop-in session and Creating Space craft group, both aiming to help with low level mental health issues and improve wellbeing.

“We’re delighted to be able to give more back to local people and add to our portfolio of community services.”

The cafe has been a real feather in the cap for Adapt and Mrs Prudhoe even described it as “the missing piece of the charity’s jigsaw” when she gave a presentation at Hexham Town Council’s annual town meeting in the summer.

The cafe comes with a conference room-style resource area which individuals and organisations can book out for meetings.

Customers are also able to take advantage of the computer resources, allowing people to access the internet and fill in vital forms.

The cafe is fitted with a Changing Places accessible toilet which has more space and disabled friendly equipment, and is the only one of its kind in the Tyne Valley.

Adapt was formed in Hexham in 1991 and has come a long way since its early days.

Many people will have seen the charity’s eight mini buses passing them, with the organisation providing wheelchair accessible community transport for people, as well as running a Dial-a-Ride scheme for those who rely on being picked up at specific locations.

The accessible vehicles are also available to hire.