IT has been more than a year since most office workers have had one of those informal chats around the water cooler.

And while some people are in no hurry to go back to the nine to five, many home workers are missing the social contact.

A small band of people have been meeting occasionally at Southbourne Green to have the kind of contact that has bee missing from most people’s lives since March 23, 2020.

Gordon Fong, owner of IT company Kimcell, became so weary of working at home that he started encouraging small, occasional gatherings at nearby Southbourne Green. People collect a coffee from one of the nearby shops and enjoy some informal conversation.  

“Coffees on the Green was a concept I first put out to the local community on Facebook when we first entered lockdown,” he said

“I found there were times where I did not leave the house for three days and recognised that this was not good for my own physical and mental health.

Bournemouth Echo:

Chris Knight, Gordon Fong and Trisha Lewis at Southbourne Green

“I thought there would be others facing the same challenges and hence why I made the suggestion. If nothing else, it was a reminder for me to leave the house and get some fresh air and take a short walk.

“Now that we are coming out of lockdown I can see more people using Southbourne Green in general, which is fantastic to see, and I make it a point to meet people there where I can.

“We should make more of these green spaces, give them life which then creates the gravity to attract others. There are already volunteers who take pride in tending to the flower beds and weeding, so it is a real community space.

“I am hoping the council could put some street furniture in so people can buy a coffee from the high street, pitch up to a high table with friends, drop their shopping bags and laugh and chat in these convivial corners of our community.”

I visited Southbourne Green – the small public space at the junction of Southbourne Road and Southbourne Grove – on a Thursday afternoon and spoke to Gordon Fong, along with

Chris Knight, business development manager for Lester Brunt Wealth Management; and actor, coach, author and podcast host Trisha Lewis.