This is a good way to meet people, and give something back at the same time. Community Service Volunteers (CSV) is celebrating 50 years of helping people of all ages embark on new adventures while helping others. It also has a branch called RSVP, the only UK-wide organisation that offers the opportunity to everyone over the age of 50 to volunteer. It covers every activity from knitting to patient transport schemes. Call 020 7643 1385 or visit www.csv-rsvp.org.uk
2 Check out Yours
We pride ourselves on providing a friendly, welcoming community here at Yours, and we have many different features that could help you to make new friends.
One of the main ones is the Friends of Yours section – our free friendship service which enables readers to find like-minded or long-lost friends. Simply fill in the appeal coupon in the magazine and send it in to us and we’ll do our best to publish your request. In addition, we offer the popular Yours Carers in Touch scheme which helps carers and those on their own to make friends. If you fit this description, write to our Reader Care Editor, Rosie Sandall, to get the ball rolling. Finally, there is Yours Dating, our online paid-for dating service, which can help people find a new friend or partner.
3 Start your own friendship group
A friendship group is simply a number of people who meet regularly for a chat or go to social events together. If you haven’t heard of one in your area, start one yourself! Begin by asking neighbours if they would like to join. You could write to your local paper to ask if they would publicise it as well as posting cards on noticeboards in your local community centre, village shop or post office. Be sure to include your contact details so people can get in touch if they’re interested. If you’re wary of inviting people into your home, suggest meeting in a local pub or café until you get to know each other better.
4 Join a reading group
Whether they are held at your local library, community centre or someone’s house, reading groups are becoming an increasingly popular leisure activity. If you have always been interested in literature, joining such a group can be a great way to expand your knowledge and try different genres that you may never have considered before. As a bonus, you will meet like-minded people with whom you may well develop a rapport and, hopefully, a lasting friendship. To find out about reading groups in your area, visit www.reading groups.org or call in at your nearest library to see if it offers something similar. If none exists nearby, consider starting your own reading group.
5 Try a new hobby
The easiest way to avoid feeling lonely is to do something, and what could be better than to try a new hobby? In the UK, we’ve got clubs and associations for everything from line dancing and amateur dramatics to chess and stamp collecting. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s bound to be an organisation close to where you live that you can join. Check your local newspaper for clubs and event listings and also take a look around your local shops and community centre, as there are often posters advertising forthcoming events and activities.
6 Meet and learn
Recent figures show that there are more than 600,000 learners over 60 in England alone. Attending a course will not only develop your skills but introduce you to new people, too. Find out about adult learning courses by visiting your library or local council education offices. The University of the Third Age (U3A) provides opportunities for members to learn for fun rather than qualifications. For more information on the U3A, including a list of its local groups, visit www.u3a.org.uk or call 020 8466 6139.
7 Team up through exercise
Exercising is more fun when you do it with other people. Whether you join a gym, a fitness class such as Zumba, or sign up to a walking group, you’ll get the benefit of health and fitness as well as new contacts. Visit your local community centre to see if it has any exercise classes available. Also try the gyms in your area to see if they offer any special membership deals. If you would prefer to get out in the fresh air and join a rambling or walking group, The Ramblers Association has a list of local groups across the country (020 7339 8500, www.ramblers.org.uk).