community building

Fleabag, The Archers, & Newcomers Welcome Clubs

Richard Lucas – February 2022


Sometimes life imitates fiction, and fiction reflects reality. 

When I first started talking to people about the Chatty Café Scheme, Alex Hoskyn’s pioneering project to get strangers talking to each other in cafes – people sometimes said “like in Fleabag”.   It turned out that in Phoebe Waller Bridge’s  hit TV series, Fleabag has Chatty Wednesdays, when people talk to people they don’t know.

Alex’s talk about the Chatty Cafe scheme

In The Archers – The world’s longest running radio docu-drama, based in the fictional village of Ambridge, a competition has been running to come up with a Valentine activity event in the village pub to help people get to know each. The winning event, (proposed by two long standing characters Adam and Susan) is to get people to talk to people they don’t know, and the plan is to use conversation cards to trigger more open topics of conversation among introverts.  These fictional event is extraordinarily similar to the Newcomer Welcome Clubs, which I have been piloting in Kraków, Lisbon and soon will be launching in other countries around the world.  

At TEDxKazimierz events we paid a lot of attention to community building and making events friendly for shy people. This was reflected not just in having speakers talking about ideas like The Chatty Café Scheme, Happy to Chat benches, and Village in the City, but also having “Conversation Cards” distributed in the audience

with questions designed to get those using them to move away from small talk, to deeper more personal conversations. See more examples here . These exactly mirror what Susan and Adam are planning for Valentines day in Ambridge. They may be onto something, as Prof Arthur Aron famous “36 questions that lead to love” experiment suggests

In the course of promoting Village in the City, a project designed to build Village like communities in cities, it became apparent that many villages have plenty of people who don’t actually know everyone and are a bit isolated.

We use pilot and launch events as team building exercises by having a volunteer recruitment process and form embedded in the event description.

We use a Facebook group here  Page here and Meetup here to get the word out.

If you want to start a NCW in your community, then get in touch.  Maybe fill in the Lisbon form or just drop me an email.

For details of these other Community building projects check out

Happy to Chat Benches

Open Coffee Youth

Yorkie Dads & Menfulness