What is a Well-being Café? How can you give a Virtual Hug to those who need it?

I wanted to share with you the steps to holding your own Well-being Café on this National Hugging Day. Currently these are all on Zoom and do make it accessible for many. Sadly there will be people who cannot connect this way.

This is something I have been doing for a number of groups and it has really helped. The Well-being Café does need a host and a structure to make it work.

The structure needs to be loose and the session needs to be fairly short, e.g. maybe an hour. It also works best with fairly small groups e.g. 5 to 20 people.

Start with a round of introductions. Provide a template and demonstrate yourself. Here is an example:

  • Name and where you are.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how is your well-being? (this gives you an idea of who is struggling without making it a big thing).
  • Ask people to share something upbeat e.g. how are you entertaining yourself. (this is to bring in some balance and energy. Some people will be able to share humour and fun, this will lift the whole group without squashing those who are struggling).

As the host it is important for you to role model. For example, yesterday with the Well-being scale I acknowledged I felt I was an “8” because I’m not exercising enough and I’m eating too much. It is unhelpful to be too bouncy and a “10”. This will put people off and feel like a mismatch for many. You do need to be authentic and connect.

If anyone is tearful hold the space and let them share or not as they wish. This is part of the Virtual Hug. Being with kind and supportive people who listen to you is the rest.

If you have more than five people I would suggest giving people 15 minutes in smaller groups to just chat, no agenda. As host circulate around the rooms to make sure people are okay and facilitate where needed.

End the session with an open frame and ask people what they want for future sessions. Provide sign posts for additional help if anyone is needing more support. I recommend you have these available before you set up the Café.




Melody Cheal MSc MAPP
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