With over 1.1 million Brits describing themselves as ‘lonely,’ the issue has quickly become a silent epidemic across the country. Just last month, the UK’s loneliness minister Tracey Crouch promised to leave ‘no stone unturned’ to eradicate the growing problem. And now, coffee chain Costa has introduced a new initiative to help tackle the epidemic.
The business has teamed up with Chatty Cafe to launch ‘Chatter and Natter’ tables in 300 of its cafes across the UK in an attempt to bring people together.
Here’s how it works: the outlets who take the initiative on board will make one table available to customers 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 choice is yours, says the campaign website. The goal is to get those suffering with loneliness to interact with one another, be it for a quick chat or to build an ongoing friendship.
‘When you are deciding where to sit, look for the Chatter and Natter table and sit there! Stay for five minutes while you have your drink or longer,’ it says on the site. ‘It’s not about making friends, just having good old fashioned human interaction!’
The official launch comes after a successful trial in April, when 25 of its stores across the country tested out the concept and saw it working as strangers began to mingle. Alexandra Hoskyn, who created the Chatty Cafe scheme back in 2017, got the idea after suffering with loneliness shortly after the birth of her baby boy.
‘He wasn’t great company and I was feeling fed up,’ she explained to The Independent. ‘I started to think about the positive impact we could all have on each other if we could all have a chat. I know from experience that when you are feeling lonely, a short interaction with another human can really brighten your day.’
While Costa is the first major chain to adopt the scheme, there are over 100 independent ‘Chatty Cafes’ in the country.