22 Jun Finding Groups with Common Interests
Finding a group of people with common interests can be a true lifeline for many, especially when loneliness in the UK is viewed as an epidemic. 45% of adults feel occasionally, sometimes or often lonely and this can have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Lockdown bought this to the forefront when we were all stuck at home – for those without a support network or close family, lockdown was a silent, boring or lonely place without human interaction. It can be hard to make friends as adults and as explored in previous blogs, a sense of community spirit and meeting your near neighbours can have a huge impact on personal wellbeing. To combat loneliness as a community, human interaction doesn’t always have to be deep and meaningful – even the act of waving to a neighbour can make a massive difference!
Searching for others with similar interests is also a recommended way to meet people – it may be that you have completely different backgrounds or outlooks on life but are able to connect through your pet dogs, running or craft for example. The SAVS and LiveWell websites, apps like Nextdoor and local Facebook groups can all be wonderful resources for finding groups. Recently on Nextdoor a woman in Leigh-on-Sea created a post asking for ‘gal pals’ to go paddleboarding with. This turned into a group with 37 members to arrange walks and coffee dates with other local women!
Dennis from Southend was struggling to even sit in public a few years ago whilst battling with his mental health. He had a love for crochet and found a sense of achievement through knitting in a public space and was later encouraged to try his hand at volunteering. From there he found the confidence to set up his own group Crafty Ones:
“The Crafty Ones crocheting and knitting group is a lifeline within the community; for the elderly and the young as isolation in general affects us all. We are a cultural and diverse group that offers “togetherness and wellbeing”, just getting out of the house and having somewhere to go and grow. I personally have made so many friends through holding space for myself and others. We are a support network that keeps giving. I found a confidence in myself I never knew I had, I realised then even after every battle I have faced my whole life, I was worthy of being somebody, even with mental health issues” – Dennis
Through lockdown the group kept going via zoom, and Dennis explained that often members would simply sit in silence on the other side of a laptop safe in the knowledge that someone else was just there. The feedback from the group has been amazing –
“Really lifted my spirits”
“The love and support this group gives…is pure joyful. I’m so grateful for Crafty Ones”
“When you are lonely and on your own it’s nice to speak to others about a craft you love via zoom”
“The zoom meetings have helped a lot over lockdown. It is a support and boost to your mood”
The time that people like Dennis offer to their community is inspirational and SAVS are always here to support you if you’d like to do the same. What’s stopping you setting up a group locally to meet others? What might feel small, can make a mountain of difference to someone else.
Community Connectors is a project run by SAVS and SBC to encourage healthy conversations and keep residents safe during the pandemic. By hearing about these hyper-local initiatives, we can build a picture of Southend and help to shape the covid recovery by talking to well-connected residents.
Community Connectors receive a weekly newsletter from us, are invited to events, and share information with their neighbours to create kinder, safer communities.
You can sign up as a Community Connector here – https://livewellsouthend.com/kb5/southendonsea/directory/advice.page?id=e5Co0ZMU4V0
Or contact Steph, our Community Connectors Officer at SAVS to chat about what’s going on in your neighbourhood, and to receive advice and support! email@example.com