According to a recent survey carried out by ComRes, 52% of Londoners feel lonely, making the city the loneliest place in the UK. And if you’re thinking most of the respondents were over the age of 65, think again; lonely 18 to 24-year-olds were on a par with London’s retirees.
So how can you combat loneliness in a city of 8.7 million people?
Try talking to strangers for starters
Contrary to what your parents told you, turns out talking to strangers isn’t all bad. In fact it’s actively encouraged by Talk To Me, an initiative started in London during the 2012 Olympics, when the entire city suddenly had something in common to chat about. For two weeks, willing participants all over London wore badges which said, ‘talk to me’, and, amazingly, something so simple actually made a connection.
Five years down the line, Talk to Me is a global concept and doesn’t look like running out of things to say any time soon. Not convinced talking to strangers can have an impact on loneliness? Have a look at Talk to Me’s recently published report, It’s Good to Talk, then see how you feel.
Finding friends locally is easier than you think
Before her tragic death in June 2016, Jo Cox MP launched a commission into loneliness, which has now been taken up by two of her colleagues, Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy. The aim is to get a number of UK charities involved and, although the reach is extensive, there’s a particular focus on new mums.
“I’m not someone who can say: ‘Hello! We’re best friends.’ It can be very isolating. It is a different pace of life, you are living on someone else’s routine,” is how Kennedy recalls feeling after the birth of the first of her three children.
And she’s far from alone: according to Justine Roberts, CEO of Mumsnet, forums are full of new mums discussing sleep deprivation, anxiety, and the struggle to make friends.
All of which will strike a chord with the founders of Pal, a new app created for people who want to make friends with real people, in real life. The app’s great if you’re planning an activity and want to get others involved, or you can use it to find like-minded locals who want to meet up for a coffee, go see a movie, or get together for a family day out.
It’s free to download, easy to use, and it works, whether you’re a new mum or new to the city. In fact Pal’s scope is as wide as the number of Londoners looking to make friends; which, according to the ComRes figures, is about 4.5 million people.
If the ComRes figures are accurate, that’s about 4.5 million people, and Pal is free to download.