Dozens of friends who were strangers just six months ago celebrate their happy 'Chatterbox' community in Milton Keynes

This week they all enjoyed a Christmas party

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:16 pm

More than 60 new friends, including three children, two dogs and a guide dog, enjoyed a special Christmas lunch this week.

All are members of Chatterbox, a group set up six months ago by the Cross and Stable Church at Downs Barn, with the aim of improving the community's mental health.

Cross and Stable minister Rev Sam Muthuveloe is also a popular local GP and launched the sessions after he heard of two tragic cases of local people who took their own lives during lockdown.

The Chatterbox community enjoyed a Christmas party

"They were in my parish," he said. "I was broken when I heard about it."

Sam has been a GP at the popular Sovereign Medical Centre on Pennyland for many years and ordained as a minister several years ago.

"Lockdown and Covid has done so much damage," he said. "Many people's mental health crumbled and it left them lonely but anxious about going out again and meeting people.

"But now people are vaccinated, it's time for them to get out again and put their lives back together. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to do that."

Free food was served

Sam has been a GP at the popular Sovereign Medical Centre on Pennyland for many years and ordained as a minister several years ago. He still continues his GP work as well as running the church.

"Lockdown and Covid has done so much damage," he said. "Many people's mental health crumbled and it left them lonely but anxious about going out again and meeting people.

"But now people are vaccinated, it's time for them to get out again and put their lives back together. We wanted to provide a safe place for them to do that."

The Chatterbox sessions were launched in the church this summer, taking place on Wednesday mornings between 10.30am to 12.30pm. People can have a chat, drink tea and enjoy cakes made by Sam's wife Ayesha.

"The idea is that anyone of any age can come along, enjoy cake and a chat and make friends...Little things like this can really help peoples' mental health," said Sam.

In no time the Chatterbox sessions took off and soon they were attracting more people than Sam gets to his Sunday service.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was the Chatterbox Christmas party and a great time was had by all. People enjoyed a free lunch, carols and a quiz.

"There was lots of happy laughter amongst people who did not know each other six months ago" said Sam. "Good and helpful friendships are being forged and our community of friends, support and care is being built."