Rishi Sunak has commended a Swaledale café for helping to combat loneliness.

The Copper Kettle in Reeth has joined the nationwide Chatty Café scheme – an initiative which aims to provide places to encourage conversation among strangers.

Under the scheme, cafes and other social venues have a “Chatter and Natter” table and a time when customers can come together and chat.

Mr Sunak, Prime Minister and MP for Richmond, recently visited the café to congratulate the owners and staff on the imminent launch of the scheme locally.

He said: “Social isolation can be a problem in rural communities and I commend the launch of the Chatty Café in this area.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Rishi Sunak with staff at the Copper Kettle Café in Reeth which will soon host sessions to combat

“The Copper Kettle is a wonderfully warm space for people who may be lonely to seek company in a supportive environment, kick-starting conversations to brighten the day.”

Sarah Gillis, who purchased the café with her partner Darren last year, said: “It's a simple concept where members of the public are invited to sit at the table, simply to chat. Loneliness is a silent killer and this is a great way that we can work with the community to offer a table in our cafe to bring people together and tackle loneliness at the same time.

“We were excited that Mr Sunak came to the café to meet our team and talk about the scheme.”

Ms Gillis, who formerly worked as a psychiatric nurse and day care centre manager before taking on the café, said a number of volunteers had come forward to offer their services as table hosts for the “Chatter and Natter” sessions. She hoped sessions would be underway in March and held on Mondays and Thursdays between 10am and 2pm.

Across the UK, hundreds of venues – cafes, pubs, libraries, leisure centres and hospitals – are taking part in The Chatty Café Scheme. More details are available at www.thechattycafescheme.co.uk.