London Lonely Girls Club Gains Thousands of New Members for Picnics, Drinks, and Game Nights
A newcomer to big city life started a Facebook group to make new friends and it grew to 20,000 people in just a few years.
The London Lonely Girls Club was founded by 26-year-old Holly Cooke, who arrived from Stoke-on-Trent, a big city in itself, but provincial compared to London.
From 2018 to 2022, it attracted 10,000 young women who, like Cooke, found it hard to make new friends. Just in 2022, it grew to 31,000, and now there are 5 or 6 members organizing fun events like brunches, game nights, cocktail parties, and picnics.
“London is so big, it leaves a lot of space for loneliness, I Googled how to make friends in London,” Cooke told the BBC. “People feel it in so many different ways. London is so transient. Some just moved here; others have been here their whole life.”
She had originally tried platonic meet-up apps like Bumble BFF but found the process a bit dodgy. She wished she could get three or four of the people she would meet on it together at once, which gave her the idea of starting a group.
She now says the group events are getting fully booked in minutes.
Groups like these are becoming semi-common in English news media. In 2022 GNN reported on the “Proper Blokes Club,” a mental health walking club where men of all ages can go on a walk through the city and share their struggles.
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Founder Scott Oughton-Johnson wasn’t lonely, rather he had gone through a long custody battle and painful separation and started the group after a video invitation to go for a walk-and-talk produced a really great evening with a friend of his.
Through the club, walk leaders organize walks to share in each other’s difficulties through talking and walking from Monday to Thursday all around England, not just in London.
The Men’s Shed movement isn’t found only in Britain, though a chapter was recently founded in Barnsley, but in the whole of the English-speaking world. The Barnsley chapter was launched by 67-year-old Phillip Jackson when moved back to England from Australia and immediately felt like a stranger.
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The original concept was to get together and make things out of wood, but in reality, it’s about plugging into the social fabric of a community, whether that’s through meeting up for a coffee, building a park bench, or listening to the problems someone is going through in their marriage.
“It’s like the shed at the bottom of your garden,” Jackson told The Guardian. “but all your friends are there. It’s a break from people’s weekly routines. It gets them out and talking to similar people.”
The Australian Men’s Shed movement has 1,200 chapters across that country, and they’re springing up in the US (17), Britain, and Canada.
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