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Being lonely for 3m Britons is as dangerous as coronary heart illness. However our information proves you CAN beat loneliness

The widower who discovered love in an ethics dialogue group. The person who received over grief and a relationship breakdown by becoming a member of a membership that nurtured his ardour for taking part in the guitar. And the ladies who discovered lifelong friendship wild swimming with strangers.

As numerous as they’re, all of those individuals have one factor in frequent: till just a few years in the past they have been desperately lonely however took the plunge to hitch new actions that will join them with others and enhance their well being.

1000’s are doing it, by way of social-media platforms or web sites equivalent to Meetup, in a bid to sort out a curse that impacts rising numbers of Britons. Loneliness – the sensation we get when our want for human contact and relationships is unmet – is reaching epidemic proportions.

The quantity of people that report feeling chronically lonely has elevated by 25 per cent for the reason that pandemic. The newest figures from the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics suggests 3.3 million adults – one in 17 – really feel lonely almost on a regular basis, in contrast with 2.6 million in early 2020.

It impacts all ages and all circumstances. Some have misplaced family members or are aged and residing alone, remoted from their households and communities.

However youngsters, surprisingly, are among the worst affected, regardless of being surrounded by their friends at college and glued to smartphones that join them to anybody on the contact of a button. In truth, analysis suggests – paradoxically – that they’ve develop into extra lonely since cell use turned widespread.

And people in mid-life, busy with jobs, youngsters and associates, may also be lonely.

Classically skilled percussionist and folks fanatic Ruairí Glasheen, proper with one among his group’s members, was 4 when he first picked up a bodhran and was immediately hooked

Working from house, procuring on-line and residing farther from households have all affected the variety of real connections we make in a day. It would not take a scientist to let you know that this may have a destructive affect in your well being.

Feeling disconnected and alone, no matter your circumstances, may be as dangerous for you as persistent well being circumstances, in accordance with the Royal Faculty of Normal Practitioners (RCGP). It has been related to despair, anxiousness, coronary heart illness, kind 2 diabetes and dementia and, total, will increase the danger of early loss of life by 50 per cent in contrast with individuals who have good social connections.

That makes loneliness as dangerous to your well being as weight problems, the RCGP factors out.

However whereas it will probably really feel like an insurmountable drawback, it would not need to be.

Specialists say the easiest way to start is by constructing connections again into your every day life. That may imply one thing so simple as procuring domestically and utilizing a manned until fairly than a self-service checkout, or taking an everyday stroll in a neighborhood park so you start to see the identical faces.

Robin Hewings, from the Marketing campaign To Finish Loneliness, says: ‘It isn’t a miracle remedy, however this stuff can actually begin to make a distinction.’

However there’s extra: throughout the nation, neighborhood teams and initiatives are bringing individuals collectively, typically in shocking methods.

CONNECTION: Aura Enache, far left, and Stephanie Dunleavy met on an Alpha Course

CONNECTION: Aura Enache, far left, and Stephanie Dunleavy met on an Alpha Course

From drumming circles to ukulele bands, mountain climbing to horse-hugging, choirs to Christian discussions, there are teams to cater to each curiosity and keenness.

All are a fantastic and wholesome solution to get out and meet like-minded individuals. Typically they’re low cost or free to hitch. Becoming a member of one may really feel daunting – however most individuals there can have been in the identical boat.

Over these pages The Mail on Sunday has chosen only a few to encourage you. There are hundreds extra on-line, on Fb or, or these run by the College of the Third Age, which has branches in every single place.

We have additionally teamed up with Age UK in its drive to seek out 1,000 volunteers for its pioneering Phone Friendship Service – an initiative that goals to alleviate the loneliness felt by older individuals. Recruits are requested to decide to giving a lonely older individual at the very least one 20- to 30-minute cellphone name each week for a 12 months.

And by signing as much as any one among these teams, or the numerous hundreds of others on the market, you too could possibly be a type of reaping the advantages – not simply to your social life, however to your well being.

I had no associates, I used to be in a darkish place. Becoming a member of a guitar group saved my life

Teams for music lovers

Whether or not you are taking part in it, dancing to it or just listening to it, music has been discovered to spice up ranges of endorphins – comfortable hormones – launched by the mind, in addition to enhance coronary heart fee, focus, shallowness and even the immune system.

You needn’t have expertise: from choirs to guitar teams and drumming workshops, all of them welcome absolute newbies.

Voice like a rusty Hinge? you are welcome at this choir

What’s it?

Tuneless Choirs may be discovered throughout the nation and are for individuals who love singing however lack the flexibility – or confidence – to do it in entrance of others.

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All-comers are welcome, however notably anybody ‘with a voice like a rusty hinge’. There aren’t any auditions, no rehearsals or performances – mainly ‘no stress and no judgment’, in accordance with Angela Knapp, 69, who runs the Oxford department.

Choirs are held weekly and classes final about an hour. Angela provides: ‘All of us get issues mistaken, and all of us snort.’

The songbook ranges from The Beatles and Nancy Sinatra to Abba, Queen and Oasis.

Nottingham member Helen Prepare dinner provides: ‘We’ve individuals with spinal-cord accidents and folks with dementia. Two of us have had breast most cancers. There’s all kinds happening for individuals, however all of us come collectively and all of us sing and we now have numerous enjoyable.’

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Go to and seek for your native group – there are greater than 30, and even a digital one on Zoom. The primary session prices £10, then it is £8 a session or £36 for six.

Our enjoyable solution to drum up new experiences

What’s it?

Bodhran Explorers, drumming workshops for the Irish bodhran – a round hand-held drum that varieties the spine of conventional Irish music – which meet recurrently on the London Irish Centre, Camden, with one-off occasions nationwide.

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Classically skilled percussionist and folks fanatic Ruairí Glasheen, above proper with one among his group’s members, was 4 when he first picked up a bodhran and was immediately hooked.

Now, in addition to taking part in in a wide range of ensembles, the Royal Faculty of Music graduate runs weekly workshops for bodhran newbies.

Members uncover the historical past of the instrument and study a variety of technical expertise. ‘Individuals come to study an instrument, however they keep for the neighborhood and the enjoyable and the shared expertise,’ says Ruairí. ‘Perhaps you’ve got by no means performed earlier than, perhaps you have been delay music as a baby after being scolded for being too loud, or too horrible – that is about making it enjoyable once more and never worrying about making errors.’

The group is as energetic as it’s numerous, with everybody from music college students to pensioners collaborating.

‘We like it,’ says Maggie Boucher, 77, who lives on her personal in London. ‘There is a girl who was a librarian for 30 years, one other who’s an expert singer. However we’re all secret performers, actually.’

Ruairí provides: ‘I’ve realised it is therapeutic for some individuals. It is a possibility to disengage with among the more difficult issues we now have to cope with on a day-to-day foundation.’

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Workshops are £15 to attend. Go to ruairiglasheen.web/beginnerbodhran.



What’s it?

Manchester, Didsbury and Oldham Guitar Group, the place music-lovers meet within the organiser’s lounge to rock out on the guitar. Learners are welcome and devices are supplied.

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On Tuesday evenings, Suborno Ghosh welcomes members into his home. ‘Individuals are going by means of so much of their lives – job losses, divorces – and so they get two hours to only neglect about that and make music. It is like remedy,’ says Ghosh, a careers and life coach.

One fan is 43-year-old Dave Beckett, who says the group has remodeled his life.

Earlier this 12 months Dave, who lives in Oldham, was at his lowest ebb. In simply 12 months he had misplaced his enterprise, cut up from his associate and misplaced his father. He says: ‘I used to be in a darkish place. I had no associates, no life in any respect.’

Dave joined the guitar group on a whim. ‘The final time I carried out, for a music examination, I had a lot stage fright I handed out 4 occasions,’ he says. ‘However the group made me really feel so relaxed and comfy that I used to be in a position to neglect about all the pieces else and simply deal with one thing I liked doing – taking part in the guitar.’

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What’s it?

The Bristol College of the Third Age Band brings collectively retirees for swing music classes. Occasions run fortnightly on Tuesday mornings at Manufacturing unit Studios on Maze Road.

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With a guiding hand from skilled musicians, this novice swing band is open to anybody who has ever performed a musical instrument. Alan Nye, 77, from Bristol, was a eager guitarist and singer in his youth. About six years in the past, due to the group, he picked up an instrument for the primary time in 40 years.

Immediately, he’s a talented participant of the cajon – a Peruvian drum.

‘Once I joined, I used to be residing by myself and wished a cause to get out of the home,’ says Alan, whose spouse died 19 years in the past.

‘I realised I had time to pursue music once more after being distracted by children and mortgages and work.’

Seven years in the past, attending one other group on ethics, he met his new associate, 74-year-old Alexandra Pickford, a former ballet dancer.

The couple have simply purchased a home collectively.

‘Assembly Alex has been transformative,’ Alan says. ‘I’ve met all kinds of different individuals as properly, so loneliness will not be on my agenda in the meanwhile.’

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Go to part of or e-mail Membership varies by location, however prices between £15 and £20 a 12 months – which provides limitless entry to all native teams.


What’s it?

Dwell Music & Socialising organises group journeys to music occasions in and round Cardiff.

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From the Belgian Nationwide Orchestra to Sunday jazz classes, this web page shares info on upcoming gigs. There’s additionally a month-to-month social occasion to debate future gigs. ‘Individuals are typically reluctant to fulfill strangers,’ says one of many organisers, 41-year-old engineer Henrique Vilhena. ‘However music is a robust solution to join.’

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Go to

My seek for God discovered me a soulmate

What’s it?

Alpha Course dialogue teams exploring the Christian religion can be found at greater than 7,000 church buildings, in addition to just about on Zoom. They’re open to anybody, no matter beliefs.

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The conferences ‘give individuals an opportunity to ask the large questions of life and discover the Christian religion in a enjoyable, non-pressurised atmosphere,’ in accordance with the Alpha Course web site.

However for Stephanie Dunleavy, 34, it additionally supplied friendship. ‘The group had somebody who was a Buddhist, and one other who recognized as atheist,’ says the Brighton-based mother-of-two, who runs jewelry enterprise Soul Analyse.

‘It is a very nice likelihood to realize connections once more with totally different individuals and have a dialog that is not about work or stress, however life’s deeper meanings.’

Stephanie met Aura Enache, 40, on the course and so they shared a room collectively on a weekend Alpha Course retreat in Eastbourne the place they loved early-morning swims within the sea.

‘It was beautiful. I do not suppose I am going to ever neglect it. I’ve undoubtedly gained a good friend in Aura.’

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Alpha Course occasions are free to attend. To search out your nearest, go to


What’s it?

Belfast Ukulele Jam, the place you’ll be able to study to play the instrument or simply hear. Learners and skilled gamers meet on Wednesday evenings within the Deer’s Head pub.

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Deliver your individual ukulele, if you would like classes in how you can play it. In any other case be at liberty to sit down and take heed to the remainder of the group study the chords for songs by Johnny Money, Woman Gaga, Queen or The Beatles.

For single mum-of-two Frances Mulvenna, 37, it has been instrumental, too, for her social life. ‘I’ve received such a giant circle of associates by means of this,’ Frances says. ‘We love inviting one another to dinner events and all of us deliver our ukuleles alongside to play collectively after consuming.’

Signal me up! or e-mail

Analysis reveals non secular involvement and spirituality are linked to constructive well being outcomes, together with better longevity, higher coping expertise, and high quality of life – even throughout terminal sickness – and fewer anxiousness and despair. These teams ought to make it easier to discover which means and companionship too.


What’s it?

Child Life Group, a weekly assembly of Christian mums and their younger youngsters organised by the Christian Life Church in Shipley, West Yorkshire.

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Whereas there’s a scriptural ingredient to the conferences, with movies and dialogue, it is the kids who typically take centre stage.

And what has emerged from it is a actual solidarity.

It is ‘a gorgeous neighborhood’, says main college instructor Hannah Clifford, who attends along with her 14-month-old son Micah.

‘We’re there for one another within the exhausting moments and rejoice the breakthroughs,’ Hannah, 34, says.

‘There isn’t any worry of judgment right here as we get to the guts of how we really feel.

‘What can also be great is the wide selection of mums, perhaps from totally different financial or cultural backgrounds to yours.’

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The one-and-a-half-hour Child Life Group conferences happen at 9.30am each Monday and are free to attend. For extra info, go to


What’s it?

Nisa-Nashim, which brings collectively Jewish and Muslim ladies. There are 24 teams unfold throughout the UK, together with in Peterborough, the West Midlands, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, and a quantity in London.

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The organisation invitations ladies from totally different backgrounds, however particularly Jewish and Muslim ladies, to return collectively to debate and forge connections.

Teams go to synagogues and mosques, rejoice festivals equivalent to Ramadan and the Jewish New Yr, Rosh Hashana.

There are additionally ‘days of social motion’ after they attend protests and ebook golf equipment – so one thing for everybody.

Mandy Ross, 59, the Jewish co-chairman of the West Midlands department, says of the group: ‘We’ve develop into such agency associates that we go to one another’s houses.

‘My life has been enriched by these ladies I’ve come to know and my world has grown by means of these connections.’

How to enroll

Annual membership prices £30. Go to


What’s it?

West Wales Buddhist Group, a neighborhood in Aberystwyth which runs conferences for Buddhists and anybody who’s merely seeking to de-stress.

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There are a number of conferences every week which discover meditation and the Buddhist lifestyle, however they may also be a solution to make associates.

‘The group additionally runs a ladies’s retreat on the Welsh border with Shropshire. That is additionally open to anybody, and features a programme of meditation, workshops and group dialogue. Buddhist instructor Maitrisiddhi, 48, says: ‘Everyone seems to be welcome, whether or not you are Buddhist otherwise you’re simply having a lonely or tense time. What everybody says is that they’re so relieved to be amongst individuals with an analogous outlook.’

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Free conferences happen on Mondays on the Quaker Assembly Home, Aberystwyth and on-line. The retreats have a minimal reserving charge from £60 to £90. Go to

Wild swimming helped us forge new friendships and ended our lockdown woes

We’re a nation of animal-lovers, however the enchantment is not simply of their cuteness. Research present that merely being within the firm of a pet can set off the discharge of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin, resulting in emotions of rest, calm and, after all, companionship. But when you do not have a pet, or would wrestle to personal one, there are methods of reaping the advantages by means of a wide range of animal-mad teams.


What’s it?

Thrive With The Herd entails an more and more widespread equine remedy – spending time with horses in a bid to spice up temper. These classes contain teams of six ladies and happen at a stables close to Winchester.

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Therapeutic actions embody stroking, grooming and feeding the animals. This enables ladies to type bonds with the horses – mentioned to be among the many most empathetic of animals. However most helpful, says founder Anna Pell, are the relationships constructed between the ladies.

‘No matter their causes for coming – loneliness or an curiosity in horses – the ladies join with one another,’ says Anna. ‘Some normally keep behind to assist out afterwards and proceed chatting, or paint the stables with me of their free time. It has began to type a neighborhood.’

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Go to or e-mail anna@thrivewiththe


What’s it?

Brook Farm Animal Sanctuary, a charity in Raunds, Northamptonshire, which rescues cattle, pets and wildlife. It depends on volunteers to take care of the animals, elevate funds and for upkeep.

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The sanctuary is house to about 200 animals, together with horses, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, cats and canine, and is staffed by simply 30 volunteers, which means friendships type rapidly. In truth, the founding father of the charity, Clive Richardson, 56, met his spouse on website when she volunteered in 2007.

The every day duties are divided up by way of a rota system, so you are able to do as a lot or little as you need, and there are many extra-curricular actions. Not too long ago, the charity hosted a ‘sheepover’ wherein volunteers and members of the general public slept in a discipline alongside the farm’s pleasant sheep.

‘The fervour for animals bonds individuals,’ says Clive. ‘Volunteers get very shut and meet up typically.’

Signal me up!

Go to or contact and ask for an utility type.

Walks to set your tail wagging


What’s it?

Cariad Pet Remedy, lengthy canine walks with pets who provide psychological well being assist in Barry Sidings Nation Park, simply exterior Pontypridd, South Wales.

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Most days, border collie Gwen and labradoodle Idris, pictured with walkers, deliver cheer to hospices and colleges. However each Thursday morning, anybody struggling loneliness or psychological well being struggles can be part of them alongside a small group of locals for an extended stroll across the park.

Idris’s proprietor Louise Franklin, 58, says: ‘Individuals say they are much happier after going out with the canine. A few of them would by no means have the ability to personal their very own pet, so that is their likelihood to essentially get to spend time with one, and meet new individuals too.’

Signal me up!

E mail hi or name 01437 766164.


What’s it?

Penwortham Barks helps organise group canine walks for homeowners seeking to meet new associates in Penwortham, on the outskirts of Preston, Lancs.

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Pet coach Meera Jethwa launched a Fb neighborhood in 2021 after transferring again in along with her mother and father with rescue canine Theo in tow. It now spans 800 members.

‘My outdated associates in Penwortham both had households and youngsters or had moved on,’ says Meera, 35.

‘I realised I did not know anybody and I would by no means owned a canine after I lived there as a baby, so I had no thought the place to stroll Theo or which venues would settle for him. I used to be like a vacationer in my own residence.’

Immediately, Meera organises walks each week, which normally contain stopping at a dog-friendly espresso store. ‘Some members now meet each week at a neighborhood park,’ says Meera. ‘And their canine have a brand new group of canine associates, too.’

Signal me up!

Go to for info on upcoming walks.

the feelgood issue of a feline good friend

What’s it?

Feline Mates, a cat rescue charity primarily based in Sunderland, Tyne and Put on. Makes use of volunteers to fundraise, assist with administration and foster cats.

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The charity was arrange by accountant Gillian Connor to rescue stray cats and kittens and assist discover them new houses. She depends on native volunteers to take care of the cats and run the day-to-day operation.

The voluntary crew additionally runs common fundraising occasions, equivalent to stalls at animal reveals, or music and comedy nights.

‘You develop into associates for all times,’ says Gillian, who has six cats. ‘We have had individuals who’ve been housebound, and simply spending time with us has enabled them to get their confidence again.’

Signal me up!

Go to or e-mail

HEALTH specialists more and more suggest outside actions for all kinds of ills – from stress to persistent ache and even hypertension. And what higher solution to do what you’re keen on, be it mountain climbing, swimming or bird-watching, than with a gaggle of like-minded individuals?

Taking the plunge into lakes, rivers and cake!

WET AND WILD: Professor Joyce Harper, centre, with fellow swimmers

WET AND WILD: Professor Joyce Harper, centre, with fellow swimmers

What’s it?

The Bluetits, a gaggle of swimmers of all ages who take to the rivers and lakes of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough all year long.

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Run by one of many UK’s prime specialists in ladies’s well being, Professor Joyce Harper, this group has greater than 2,000 members on Fb.

There are swims at daybreak, noon plunges and night-time dips, which draw attendees from all around the world.

For Prof Harper, the group was instrumental in serving to her overcome isolation throughout the pandemic. ‘It saved me from my loneliness,’ she says. ‘I am a single mom to a few teenage boys and I received fed up of strolling round my Suffolk village.

‘Becoming a member of the group, there was prompt camaraderie. You get this bizarre euphoria from getting within the water, this exhilaration from the shared expertise.’

She has even visited festivals with the ladies in her group – and finds comparable swimming communities throughout the globe when she travels for conferences.

Afterwards, the swimmers huddle collectively and chat over cake.

‘You come away with the most important smile in your face. You actually do really feel the love,’ says Prof Harper.

‘Males placed on Lycra and get on their bikes. Ladies bounce into the water.’

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Go to


What’s it?

Wolf Method Health, a twice-weekly outside train boot camp for ladies. They meet at a park in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

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Lots of the ladies at this camp have been by means of divorce, sickness, menopause or have moved into the world, and discover assist from others at an analogous life stage.

Whereas the group is about constructing health – by way of weightlifting, squatting and sprinting – its chief, Kirsten Whitehouse, 47, focuses equally on making a neighborhood.

‘Ladies come to the group to be outside and to get the bodily advantages of coaching, however they hold coming again as a result of they meet like-minded, enjoyable individuals,’ she says.

‘And there is all the time somebody who can provide recommendation.’ A gaggle of girls typically keep behind afterwards for a gin and tonic on a park bench.

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Go to or e-mail

Go on, Take a hike… it’s going to do you good

What’s it?

Journey Solos mountain climbing and tenting teams appropriate for all ages and talents.

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Actions embody something from weekend tenting journeys for newbies to intensive, all-day treks. Most friends ebook a visit by themselves, which signifies that nearly everyone seems to be assembly for the primary time.

The initiative was arrange by 40- year-old Lancastrian Chris Bone, who tells of members who’ve credited the journeys for getting them by means of a tough divorce, and others who say they assist their psychological well being issues.

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What’s it?

Glamorgan Fowl Membership combines walks with bird-watching across the harbours, moorlands and valleys of South Wales.

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Twice every week this group explores the countryside whereas preserving a watch out for uncommon breeds. Skilled bird-watchers train newbies in regards to the wildlife.

‘Numerous individuals come on our walks as a result of they’re lonely and are in search of dialog and to be part of one thing,’ says group chairman Jean Haslam, 72. ‘I’ve met an enormous variety of individuals from all walks of life. Twitchers aren’t simply males hanging spherical with binoculars.’

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Go to


What’s it?

Wildstrong – mild train and chit-chat in woodlands for ladies of all ages. There are three teams, in Fife, Pangbourne in Berkshire and Enfield in North London.

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Members meet a couple of times every week and use the atmosphere to enhance their health. That features balancing on fallen bushes and lifting heavy branches. ‘It is actually individuals who like hanging out within the woods,’ says Gillian Erskine, who based the group. ‘Our members come to speak or meet up with individuals and can find yourself getting stronger and fitter consequently.’

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Go to or e-mail


A swallow swooping over the species-rich grassland at the existing Slievenacloy Nature Reserve in the Belfast Hills

A swallow swooping over the species-rich grassland on the current Slievenacloy Nature Reserve within the Belfast Hills 

What’s it?

Belfast Hills Strolling Dynamos – group walks of between 25 and 30 individuals to surrounding magnificence spots.

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Excursions final now not than just a few hours and are appropriate for dawdlers and canine. Annual membership is £20, plus £1 per stroll.

‘One man joined whose daughter had died and his marriage broke up. He received along with a lady within the group,’ says founder Andrea McKernon. ‘A few of us have now taken holidays collectively.’

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Go to to seek out out extra.

Further reporting: Moira Petty

You possibly can be part of the struggle on loneliness with one cellphone name every week

The Mail on Sunday is backing Age UK’s drive to recruit 1,000 new volunteers to its Phone Friendship Service – a easy initiative that goals to alleviate the loneliness felt by older individuals throughout the nation.

And becoming a member of could not be simpler. Recruits will probably be interviewed and endure a fast on-line coaching course, earlier than being matched with somebody who would profit from a 30-minute chat as soon as every week.

Typically, individuals are matched as a result of they share frequent floor. ‘That could possibly be hobbies, life experiences or simply somebody who grew up domestically to them,’ explains Alasdair Stewart, Age UK’s director of nationwide companies. ‘Our service has helped to create hundreds of recent friendships.’

Calls are routed by means of a switchboard, no contact particulars are exchanged and solely first names are used.

The calls are the spotlight of the week for Susan, 71, from Somerset. She was matched with Nick, who’s retired and determined to volunteer after seeing the distinction common cellphone calls made to his personal mother and father. ‘It is a beautiful friendship,’ says Susan. ‘He has develop into like household to me.’

Nick says: ‘Susan is a stunning girl. Half an hour, as soon as every week, will not be so much, and the rewards on each side are nice.’

Join Age UK’s Phone Friendship Service by visiting friend

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