Ian Richardson sips on a black coffee in the garden of The Hill Station café in Telegraph Hill.

The community café is a fitting place to meet to discuss the trials and tribulations of running a community Facebook group which serves the area so well.

Ian, 60, has been an admin of I Love SE4 – Brockley, Ladywell, Crofton Park & Telegraph Hill for about seven years, and found himself in charge of the group when its founding member left London.

“Community groups are there to promote some sense of village,” he says.

“One of the things that’s really corrosive in our society at the moment is that people feel helpless.

“They have all this sh*t happening to them and people don’t feel that their councillors are responsive.”

We are briefly interrupted by a friend who stops to say hello – which is a somewhat frequent occurrence for Ian, a well-known face in the community.

“I saw two other people I knew in here before you arrived,” he laughs.

“I don’t know many parts of London where you can walk through the streets and people will say hello to you."

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Ian has lived in New Cross for 50 years after moving here from Scotland when he was 10.

He has always been an active member of the community, taking part in several theatre groups and arts projects over the years.

After 30 years working in public service in Lewisham, he was forced to take early retirement after suffering from a heart attack about seven years ago.

“I was laid up and recovering at home for three months after all those years of public service and I wanted to do something to feel useful,” he explains.

And his active approach as an admin has paid off. Ian estimates I Love SE4, which now boasts more than 17,000 members, is one of the largest community groups in the country.

But while he loves being a part of the group, he has dealt with some unpleasant abuse as an admin.

“A small minority of people really can affect a big group quickly, which is why I tend to get rid of the people who are abusive fairly quickly. In turn, I get an awful lot of abuse.”

He describes being cyber-stalked and threatened by people who have disagreed with his decisions.

“The worst part about that is that some people will say, ‘It serves you right’, which is upsetting.”

Ian admits there are times when he has to step away from the keyboard if the abuse gets too much. But he always comes back to the job in the end, because he believes the group is doing good in the community.

He repeats the phrase: “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds,” which derives from his Zoroastrianism belief.

“Nine out of 10 times, Facebook descends into cage fights,” he jokes.

“But you start to see that actually most people want to reach out a hand.”

In an area which has seen substantial development over the past few decades, Ian believes people are able to find common ground on the group.

“We all want good schools for our kids; we all want safe streets; and we all want buses that run.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from - you share those concerns.”

Ian pays tribute to the kindness of the group’s members, which inspires him to keep up the job.

“The thing that I love the most is: ‘I’ve found your dog’; or, ‘I’ve kept your cat in for the night’.

“It’s those little acts of human kindness that are almost the most important part of it. That’s what gives me a kick and makes it worthwhile.”