6 virtual groups to join if you want to make friends

Photo credit: Getty/Country Living
Photo credit: Getty/Country Living

From Country Living

Are you looking to join a virtual group to help ease feelings of loneliness? From online choirs to social gatherings via video call, there are plenty of wonderful options for everyone to find companionship.

According to newly-released data, the risk of loneliness during the lockdown period has increased significantly. “During the pandemic and the rise of self-isolation, many people could be experiencing loneliness for the first time,” Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, tells Country Living. “Some people can find it difficult to admit that they are lonely, but one of the best things we can do to manage loneliness is to talk about it.”

Whether you want to make new friends or simply want to join a group that will put a smile on your face, take a look at some ideas below…

1. Virtual choir group

Do you enjoy singing and want to make some new friends? Online choir group, The Sofa Singers, sees hundreds of people come together every week from around the world to make music. As well as singing together, there’s also a virtual tea break followed by some open floor slots where individuals can say hello and share a song, a poem or story.

“Set up by vocal leader James Sills as a response to global self isolation during the Coronavirus outbreak, The Sofa Singers brings together hundreds of people in real time for 45 minutes of simultaneous singing,” explains the team. Why not give it a go…

2. Virtual book club

Over in Suffolk, one library has taken its book clubs virtual, giving everyone the chance to chat about their favourite novels — while also making new friends. Whether you want to chat to some new faces or learn about new books, this free online resource provides everyone with the chance to get involved.

As well as book clubs, the library also hosts games nights, quizzes and virtual board game groups, too. It’s the perfect way to spark some joy during lockdown.


3. The virtual group talking about mental health

Do you need someone to talk to about how you’re feeling? The mental health charity, Mind, has launched Elefriends — a supportive online community where you can feel at home talking about your mental health. It also gives people the chance to connect with others who are going through a similar journey.

Remember: If loneliness is affecting your day-to-day life, or causing your mental health to worsen, speak to your GP.


4. Online exercise classes

Exercise is not only great for your physical health, but it can positively benefit your mental health, too. If you’ve been feeling lonely during lockdown, a great way to boost your mood is to take part in an online exercise class. From yoga to pilates, there is plenty on offer to suit every skill set.

Photo credit: Country Living/Getty
Photo credit: Country Living/Getty

Research conducted by the NHS found that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, energy, mood and sleep quality, too. It’s worth having a look in your local area to see if any instructors or gyms are offering free online workouts.


5. Make new friends online

The brilliant online community, Together Friends, connects women around the UK based on their location, age and interests. It’s a safe space for ladies to chat together, have calls over morning coffee and meet up for social distancing walks, too.

The team explain: “Many of our members have recently moved to an area, retired, lost a partner or divorced and are now looking to make new friends.”


6. A friendly phone call

While virtual groups in the wake of the coronavirus are great for staying connected, it can be tricky for those without access to the internet. If you’re looking for someone to speak to over the phone, ReEngage have launched Call Companions – a free service for anyone over 75 who lives alone and feels they could do with a friendly phone call. You can call as often or as little as you need.

“We know these past few weeks have been tough for everyone. But, the truth is, living through lockdown when you’re on your own can feel unbearably lonely at times. After all, doesn’t everyone need someone to chat to,” explains the team.


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