creating companionship

Trevor Sherwood having spoke to community partners began thinking about the concept of being able to work with local GPs to reach out to those who are suffering loneliness and social isolation. 


Working together as a team with our partners Hartlepool & Stockton Health to enable GP surgeries across Hartlepool to be able to socially prescribe coffee. 


The reason for this was to enable us to tackle the root cause of loneliness within the town by enabling an opportunity to create companionship within all the wrap-around services we offer.   

Many NHS staff has told Trevor that many people come into the GPS and hospitals because they are lonely and go there for someone friendly to talk to despite there being no other medical reason. With their wish that they could prescribe a friend.  

This is the first time that a project of this type has been created within the UK and it's funded by the generosity of our customers through the suspended coffee scheme and the sale of our products within the coffee shop.

Patients who are feeling lonely are being prescribed coffee by Teesside GPs available at a Hartlepool cafe. 

Thanks to the generosity of customers at Lilyanne's coffee bar, it has funding to give away 1,000 free coffees over the next few months. 

The cafe has teamed up with Hartlepool and Stockton GPs to encourage patients to pop in for a drink and a chat.


Manager Angela Arnold said all some people need to feel better was a "chat and a friendly face".

Ms Arnold said Lilyanne's tries to ensure staff are always available to chat to customers.

Every Wednesday, the GP federation has a social prescribing link worker on hand at the cafe GP who can help them deal with loneliness by just chatting to them or encourage them to try social clubs, classes or sports teams.

Ms Arnold said: "Since we've been in lockdown people have a real sense of what social isolation is because they've been in that position. 

"Before people could say it was sad, but walk away from it, but now people really know what it feels like.

"Not everyone who has depression or is lonely wants to go down the route of medication - sometimes they just want a chat or see a friendly face."

Rachael Davison, spokeswoman for Hartlepool and Stockton Health, a federation of local GPs, said loneliness had always been an issue but that coronavirus lockdowns had made the problem worse.

She said: "Loneliness is a huge issue. 

"We found previously that there was a high prevalence of over 50s who were isolated and lonely just through circumstances. 

"But now it's a whole new realm of people especially young groups, so we've got patients in their late teens and 20s who are socially isolated.

"We are trying to encourage people to slowly get back into the community."