Chatty duo reflects on emotional community-building conversations

Cherie and Joy

Cherie Button and Joy Chance. - Credit: Dave Barber

Since early last year, two chatty ladies have been checking up on the residents of Welwyn Garden City – smiling, laughing and crying along the way.

Perched outside The Howard Centre every other Saturday, Cherie Button and Joy Chance have been keeping tabs on the community since April last year, and it’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

“We have been so privileged to talk to lots of wonderful people and visitors to our town and have laughed, cried and celebrated with lots of people we have had the pleasure to speak to,” Cherie told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

“People have shared their loneliness, grief, celebrations and experiences with us and we hope that by being a friendly face we have given them support and friendship.”

The idea was spawned during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, with Cherie explaining: “Whilst my husband and I were out on our daily walks it was very noticeable how low in mood people were feeling.

“So, at 3am one morning I had an idea to say a simple hello to people.

“I spoke to my friend Joy and we met for a socially distanced coffee in the town centre where we then just said a simple hello to people as they walked by.

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“We then spoke about sitting in the town centre twice a month which we have been doing since the end of March 2021.”

With a growing focus within society on the importance of mental health, Cherie believes it is important to check in family, friends and strangers alike.

“We never really should underestimate the power of a simple hello and a smile.  You never know that you may be reaching out to someone at a time they simply need it,” she said.

“It is very important to check in on our family, friends, neighbours and strangers to remind each other how much we care and to make sure that no one feels invisible and that there is always a friendly face to talk too.”

The chatty duo wants to take their community support to the next level by introducing a ‘Talking Table’ to allow more people to sit and discuss with them.

“We would dearly love sponsorship to introduce a ‘Talking Table’ to the town centre,” said Cherie.

“Our vision is for it to be a round table to encourage people to sit and take five with each other and just talk.

“Joy and I will be there twice a month at the table and feel we would love to encourage people to simply sit, plonk, take five minutes and unwind whilst talking and more importantly laughing with us.”

To check out Cherie and Joy’s Facebook page, visit Cherie & Joy - We Grow Community.

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