A generous couple are opening their shop on Christmas Day to give people facing the day alone somewhere to enjoy company, hugs and mince pies.
Shashi and Pallu Patel have run newsagents Meet and Deep which is based in Twickenham, south west London, for 35 years, and are helped out by their two sons, Meeten and Deepen.
The couple used to take Christmas Day off as their one day of rest in the year, but eight years ago, something changed.
Lovely message from Meet and Deep News in Hampton/Twickenham pic.twitter.com/ZSLfiboqf5
— Katie Harrison (@harrisonkt_) December 19, 2017
The couple’s elderly neighbour, called Dorothy, fell victim to a scam just before Christmas, writes the Press Association.
Dorothy had been conned by men who had knocked on her front door posing as boiler repair men – they then stole all the money she had saved from her pension.
She had no family and was scared. We warned others about what had happened to Dorothy, then people started giving donations for her, little sweets or food for her cat.
We invited Dorothy over on Christmas Day. We gave her the big sack of presents we’d collected and she cried and said it was the best Christmas of her life.
This restores our faith in what it means to be a loving member of the human race. Kindness and thoughtfulness of others should be the beating heart of every community. Thank you for sharing.
— John Murray (@ReadingExplorer) December 19, 2017
It was from that moment on, the family realised there would be other people alone and in need of help over the Christmas period.
Although it’s a lovely time of year, it can be tough for others.
People feel they have no one to talk to because everyone is preoccupied celebrating, they don’t want to bring them down.
So they began opening the shop on Christmas Day, welcoming in anyone who was lonely for a mince pie and a chat.
They quickly realised that it was not just older people who were lonely.
Deepen said even though Christmas Day was the one day off they had all year, the family still think it is worth going into work.
One man who came in had just got divorced, so his children were with his ex-wife. He had all the food and the presents at home but no one to celebrate with
My parents are getting a bit old, so we asked them if they wanted to not work. But they said no, they want to make sure they are serving the people who rely on them.
Really lovely as many people alone who don't require charity to provide a communal meal but would like somewhere to go to break up the day and have a chat.
— Linda Helen Green (@LinHelenGreen) December 19, 2017
Although the Patels are Hindu, they believe in celebrating all religious festivals.
My parents brought my family up to believe there’s just one power with many names, you can celebrate all divinity in every way.
We have the tree and the decorations, a special meal, light some candles and have a crucifix. In Hinduism the main message is to help everybody in life, especially those less fortunate.
Everybody should have somebody at Christmas, so we try to be that somebody.
What an amazing, kind family.