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The University of Southampton

Southampton will be first university to host the Frazzled Cafe

Published: 12 December 2019
Ruby Wax Chancellor ceremony
Frazzled Cafe founder and patron Ruby Wax has just been installed as Chancellor at Southampton.

The University of Southampton will become the first university ever to host the successful Frazzled Cafe when sessions exclusively for students and staff planned to start in early 2020.

The announcement was made by Frazzled Cafe founder and patron Ruby Wax during her installation as Chancellor of the University of Southampton. Frazzled Cafe is not a traditional café, as such, but it takes the form of facilitated peer support meetings in relaxed environments, such as cafes, where people can share their personal stories in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment – a space where, in Ruby’s words, “it’s ok, to not be ok.”

“I’m very excited that Southampton will become the first university ever to host the Frazzled Cafe which makes me feel even more connected to the city and the University,” Ruby enthused.

Ruby’s inspiration to establish the charity came from her own life experiences, reinforced by her encounters with thousands of people during her book and theatre tours who approached her looking for a place and space to connect with others and speak honestly and openly.

“The people I met up and down the country kept saying they wanted a place to connect and share their stories of feeling ‘frazzled’ and also receive support from their peers to help with the overwhelming stresses of modern life,” Ruby continued. “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.”   

Frazzled Cafe’s introduction to the city will also be a first for Southampton. The charity’s meetings currently run in cafes and community rooms in Marks & Spencer and other partner venues such as Le Pain Quotidien in nine cities across the UK.

Professor Mark E Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton welcomed the introduction of Frazzled Cafe to the campus and city.

“We’re delighted to be working with Ruby and the Frazzled Cafe charity to pilot a programme of peer support meetings specifically for our students and staff who we know will benefit from the unique environment Frazzled Cafe offers,” Professor Smith enthused.

“We’re especially pleased to the first ever university to host the Frazzled Cafe meetings which align perfectly with our Health and Well-being services and policies for all students and staff. Good mental health is so important in today’s world where we often take for granted that everyone is okay and coping when they might not be and need that extra space to reflect and explore how best to move forward in life.”

Elizabeth Morrison, Director of the Frazzled Cafe charity and a Southampton graduate, is also excited about the prospects for the Southampton sessions to engage the student and staff communities in an informal but informative setting.

“Frazzled Cafe meetings provide a safe and confidential space where people can simply speak openly amongst a group of peers who understand how it feels to be frazzled without worrying about being judged,” said Elizabeth Morrison. “The meetings are not just for the one-in-four of us who will experience a diagnosed mental illness at some point in our lives. It is the four-in-four feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life which so many of us experience but don’t always feel able to speak about with those closest to us.”

Further details of Frazzled Cafe sessions at the University of Southampton will be made available in early 2020. Click here to find out more about the charity.


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"Frazzled Cafe is about people coming together to share their stories, calmly sitting together, stating their case and feeling validated as a result." - Ruby Wax, Chancellor, University of Southampton
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