"Chat checkouts" emerge in the Netherlands to fight social isolation

In the Netherlands, the supermarket chain Jumbo opens tills where clients can take their time and chat instead of rushing to pay for their groceries.

This "Kletskassa" (or "Chat Checkout") initiative is part of the Dutch government's "One Against Loneliness" campaign that aims to fight against isolation amongst the elderly population.  

By this time next year, Jumbo hopes to install chat checkouts in 200 stores across the country, in areas where loneliness is particularly present. Moreover, some stores will feature a chat corner where customers can have a coffee and chat with their neighbours.

Why does it matter? 1.3 million people in the Netherlands (~7% of the population) are older than 75 years, and 33% expressed they felt lonely. Going to the supermarket is one of the rare social interactions they have during their day, so this environment seems like a natural fit to implement such initiatives.

What can we do?
Many other initiatives exist worldwide to help us prevent loneliness for our loved ones. 

  • The younger among us can look for local nursing homes that connect students with the elderly in exchange for affordable accommodation. 
  • Also, some postal companies offer services where their employees have conversations with people living alone while delivering mail. 
  • Otherwise, we can set reminders to regularly call our older relatives, who can sometimes be uncomfortable asking for help.