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Dutch supermarket finds unique way to end loneliness among the elderly


“Chat Checkouts” are proving a great success among local shoppers.

One of the difficulties among the elderly population is loneliness. Family members are often not around as they live far away for work or other commitments. As a result, these more vulnerable members of society can feel isolated. Luckily, there are initiatives springing up all over the world to try and combat this issue, and the “chat checkout” in a Dutch supermarket is one of them, according to a report in Truth Theory.

The Jumbo Supermarket in Vlijmen, Holland, decided to create the “All Together Coffee Corner” where shoppers could stop for a coffee and a chat, as well as the “Chat Checkout” for those who wish to chat as they pay for their groceries. Looking out for all their clients, the supermarket still has regular checkouts for those who don’t have the time for conversation.

Volunteers from the Alles Voor Mekaar foundation, which roughly means “everything for each other,” go to the supermarket to lend an ear, or a hand, to elderly members of the community. One regular volunteer, Liesbeth Geveling, sees senior shopper Christien Smiets once a week. Thanks to their chats over coffee, the pair has struck up a lovely friendship.

Alexander Van Weert, who initially came up with the idea, believes the social chit chat is a great way to combat loneliness. It’s also a way for the community to come together while going about their regular chores; something that’s often lost in our fast-paced digital world where shopping is increasingly done in the comfort of our own homes.

While your own local supermarket might not have such an initiative, you can still extend a hand of friendship to the elderly members in your community when you’re out and about doing your chores.

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