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Connecting communities over a cuppa

Chris Glazewski, Founder of Cuppa Time

Chris Glazewski is challenging complete strangers to get together over a cup of coffee.

He’s a recent arrival in Mount Maunganui, but not one to muck around when it comes to making new friends. So he’s brewed up a group called Cuppa Time.

It is an initiative that he hopes will bring the community closer together, encouraging strangers to catch up over a hot drink.

The idea was initially promoted via a community Facebook page, and the response was immediate and overwhelming with just under 1000 likes, 85 comments and about 50 direct messages.

“We just wanted to see if a couple of people were interested in meeting for a coffee, it was a lot more than I thought.”

Chris thinks the massive community response proves that people in Tauranga are eager to connect with others.

“It shows that people in the area want to get out a little bit more and meet strangers. New people move here all the time.

“There’s been a wide range of responses from people who have just moved here from different countries and cities, people who don’t know people outside of their workspace, and others who just haven’t had the chance to meet new people because life has taken over.”

Chris says the idea started when he was chatting with a mate, out in the surf, about how valuable it is catching up in person, and how it tends to happen less these days.

He felt motivated to reach out to the Mount Maunganui and Tauranga community after the Christchurch terror attacks.

 “The tragedy got me thinking about how little I know about the people in my own community, especially outside of my immediate circle.

“Having only moved to the Mount recently, I thought ‘why not do something practical and get to know people in here better?’ I decided to throw a post up on Facebook and see if anyone was keen to grab a coffee, my shout.”

Chris has recently created a separate Facebook group for Cuppa Time, which has about 200 members.

He has met up with four different strangers so far, finding it uplifting ‘hearing stories about peoples different backgrounds’.

Cuppa Time is based on the ‘pay it forward’ model. Those who meet up with Chris are encouraged to meet up with two other members of the group and shout them a coffee.

“Hopefully this will link everyone up eventually. It’s a way for people to connect within the area, get offline, get outside and shout a coffee.”

Chris points out that group members are not obliged to pay it forward, ‘only if they feel comfortable and have the time’.

“We want people to feel secure, so that’s why all meetings are organised in a public place at a local café. Safety is pretty important even if it’s just for a coffee.”

The group is aiming to practise inclusivity, intertwining people of different ages, races and religions. He eventually wants to use the initiative to get in touch with the older generation.

“It’s a town that is growing so quickly and I think a lot of people are just going to work and come home, and don’t know anything else.”

“We want communities to get to know each other and through that connect people’s stories.”

For more information about the initiative, visit: www.facebook.com/groups/cuppatimeforclosercommunities/

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