Costa rolls out ‘chatter and natter’ tables nationwide to combat loneliness epidemic

'When you are feeling lonely, a short interaction with another human can really brighten your day'

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Loneliness in Britain has recently been described as a “silent epidemic”, with an estimated 1.1 million Britons describing themselves as lonely.

Now, one of the UK’s most popular coffee chains has set out to tackle the issue by launching “chatter and natter” tables in 300 of its outlets across the country.

Costa's nationwide initiative follows a successful trial in April, when 25 of its stores across the country tested out the concept.

Costa Coffee launched the concept on Wednesday at the Southwater Square branch in Telford, Shropshire.

The idea is that cafes that adopt the scheme dedicate one of their tables to those on their own looking for someone to chat to, “whether it’s for five minutes while you drink a brew, or an hour of good conversation,” the campaign’s website reads.

The aim is that these interactions, however brief, will help those struggling with feelings of loneliness, regardless of whether they’re looking to actually build friendships or not.

The "Chatty Cafe" scheme was launched in 2017 by mother-of-one, Alexandra Hoskyn, after she spotted an elderly woman alone in a supermarket cafe and a young man with his support worker who looked like he could use some company.

Hoskyn, who was with her four-month-old son at the time, was feeling lonely herself, explaining “he wasn’t great company and I was feeling fed up.

The "chatter and natter" table at Costa's Teleford store.

“I started to think about the positive impact we could all have on each other if we could all have a chat,” she explains.

I know from experience that when you are feeling lonely, a short interaction with another human can really brighten your day."

There are now more than 100 independent cafes across the UK that have adopted the scheme, however, Costa is the first major chain to take part.

If the concept proves successful, it intends to expand the scheme across the country.

“Chatty Cafe is a fantastic initiative that we are very proud to be involved with," commented Costa's head of sustainability, Victoria Moorhouse.

The news comes after Theresa May appointed a minister to tackle loneliness earlier this year, following the recommendations in a recent report by the Jo Cox Commission.

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