“Happy to Share,” a Development Fund winner, is about to reach further than ever!

When Caron Sprake applied for a Recovery Devon development fund for her “Happy to Share” cards back in 2015, we loved the idea, and wanted to help make it happen.

Caron is an award winning blogger and campaigner working with older people as Caron Cares. Caron noticed how many people in cafes were sitting alone, so she created a simple card saying “Happy to Share My Table.” those people could be joined by others who may also be looking for someone to share a table and have a conversation. 

This simple and innovative way to reduce social isolation and loneliness in our communities has already proved popular in cafes and eateries across Devon.

Many elderly people are isolated and lonely. It’s tough for them, a real struggle.

Caron Sprake

Caron Cares

It didn’t stop at Devon, though; The Huffington Post took up the story in 2018, and it’s set to reach further still. 

This idea has been met with great acclaim nationally with Age UK sharing it on their national Facebook page. A post that generated 968 reactions, 101 comments and 493 shares… in just over 24 hours!

Caron also received a Point of Light award from the PM with Happy to Share cards being mentioned.

All of this interest needed to be turned into action. That’s why the design of the card is under redevelopment by a generous and talented volunteer, ready for a wider audience.

We are seeking to have 50,000 cards printed and then recruit up to six Devon-based volunteers who will handle enquiries and be responsible for sending out the cards complete with guidance notes for their use. People receiving the cards will be expected to distribute them in their locality. We also aim to engage with several national supermarkets and coffee shop chains; this has already happened at a local level, but we reckon the cards should travel much further.

Recovery Devon has also been in talks with researchers at the University of Exeter, who are very keen to evaluate the effectiveness of the cards. This might involve participatory research to back up the idea behind the project with hard data.

Should this prove successful (and we’re sure it will), there is potential for an even bigger print run further down the line – reaching wider still.

This is a fantastic opportunity to provide evidence of the impact of this innovation to reduce social isolation, known to affect mental health and wellbeing.

Dr Donna Poade Payton

University of Exeter

This project will run for one year or until all stocks of Happy To Share cards have been distributed, but we can see this one running for some time to come. We’re looking forward to many enquiries as we prepare to print.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to get us this far. If you are interested in helping, please contact us!