It is a paradox of modern society that, while technology makes many people ever more connected and socially available, it can have an isolating effect on those not so closely wired into the grid.
Loneliness is a plague of modern society — particularly for elderly people.
But it can be a problem for people of any age — especially in the party season when a perceived fear of missing out can heighten the emotions and intensify feelings of solitude.
So hats off to Russell Ison, director and co-owner of Home Coffee, which is opening the doors of its cafés in Albert Road, Southsea, and Cosham High Street on Christmas Day, and inviting anyone who feels down or lonely to drop in for a spot of festive company.
Chris explained: ‘Last Christmas we did it as an experiment, opening the doors at Albert Road and our Cosham shop on the morning of Christmas day for anybody who was on their own.
‘That’s the time when families are together opening presents and those people who are on their own can feel the loneliness a bit more.’
Russell shares some moving tales of that show how much his gesture of Christmas goodwill was appreciated.
The Home Coffee company has just set up its own charity, Good Company, which has won the backing of MP Stephen Morgan as its patron.
Ethical practice and a social conscience is an admirable goal in any walk of life.
While ecological credentials have become a watchword for many businesses in recent years, some have been slow to adopt the idea of what David Cameron once called the Big Society.
Let’s hope that in the future, as we head towards Brexit and try to emerge from the shadow of austerity, many more companies will follow Home Coffee’s example.
That way they will be happy to to enjoy our business, but also to pay a little back.