I’m sat in Café Nero in Fforestfach. I’m drinking coffee and blogging.
I’m watching people sat alone, reading papers, staring into the distance, doing paperwork. I can see the couples sat in silence, and the couples talking. I can see the women in the window seats glued to their smart phones.
Usually, but not today, I watch a group of mothers laughing together with babies in prams, or a group of older women
Earlier today I was part of a talking couple, catching up with my husband. And then we got talking about ‘coffee shop conversations’.
That’s something I do in coffee shops as part of Barod, but not today. And it’s something I’m researching for a PhD.
Imagine, the group of mothers get talking about the local maternity service. A fly on the wall would have a field day learning by listening to them. The fly would hear all sorts of things that weren’t said at the formal consultation on the future of that service.
I did listen in to one of those conversations a few years ago in Holyhead. That’s when I realised what a wealth of problem-solving, insightful knowledge exists which policy makers and service managers don’t tap into.
And the idea for ‘coffee shop conversations’ was born.
It’s a method that lets policy makers learn from members of the public who ‘don’t do engagement’. It’s a method that lets members of public use their voice – you’d be amazed how many wish there was a magic way for ‘important people’ to know what life is like for them without them having to go to a public meeting or fill in a questionnaire. It’s a method that costs very little. And from past experience, it’s a method that leads to a wider group of people taking an interest in public life.
If you want to know what the method involves, how it works and to see one in action, come along on Tuesday 20th September to the Swansea Behaviour Change Festival