Author, comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax has joined forces wtih Marks & Spencer to launch Frazzled Cafe in M&S stores.
Announced at London Book Fair this afternoon, M&S Cafés will host fortnightly "talk-in" sessions where people who are feeling "frazzled" can meet to talk and share their personal stories in a "safe, anonymous and non-judgmental environment".
Eleven M&S stores will be hosting Frazzled Cafe meetings over the next few months, including branches in London, Brighton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Canterbury and Norwich. More locations are set to be added throughout the year.
Taking place in M&S Cafés after hours and led by trained volunteer facilitators, Frazzled Cafe meetings are designed "not just for the one-in-four Britons who will suffer a mental illness at some point, but for the four-in-four who are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life".
Wax was inspired to create Frazzled Cafe after coming across thousands of people who wanted to talk and feel connected during her book tours and theatre shows for A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled (Penguin) and Sane New World (Hodder).
Wax said: “We live in a time where to have a life crammed to the hilt is considered a success story. But with all this pressure, so many of us have nowhere to go to meet and talk about it. Frazzled Cafe is about people coming together to share their stories, calmly sitting together, stating their case and feeling validated as a result. Feeling heard, to me, has always been half the cure. It’s special to get a company like M&S on-board. I’m grateful for the set-up support they’ve given us and access to their café network is a huge boost.”
Sacha Berendji, retail director at Marks & Spencer, said: “Ruby’s Frazzled Cafe is a simple, pressure-free way of tackling what can be a taboo subject – feeling stressed. We hope that by providing free and calm venues after the café has closed, we can help any members of the community who simply need to talk about things and what’s happening in their lives.”
Frazzled Cafe is a not for profit and soon to be registered charity created by Wax and run by Elizabeth Morrison and Anna D’Onofrio.
The name of the charity is inspired by Wax’s book A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled (Penguin).