Meeting people and making new friends can be tricky. But after the pandemic shook up the way we could socialise and interact, people have continued to explore new and interesting ways to connect with each other.
Gone are the days when you could only meet new people at parties, or through friends, family, or work. Now, you can make and maintain meaningful bonds with people both in person and online.
With that said, here are nine different ways to meet new people…
1. Networks, clubs, and events
If you’re keen to meet people in person or virtually, and you enjoy being part of a club or group, then there are plenty of ways you can do this.
It’s worth checking out the Oddfellows; a network of friendship groups across the UK. The Oddfellows supports almost 40,000 members across its 99 UK branches, many of whom are retired or older adults – so they’ve got lots of daytime activities available, as well as volunteering opportunities.
Their local branches put on free or inexpensive taster events, such as walks, talks, quizzes, and afternoon teas, as well as online open days – to show newcomers the benefits of joining a friendship group. There’s something for everyone, and they’re always ready to welcome new members along.
Plus, the Oddfellows are putting on extra events up and down the country during their Friendship Month in September.
You can find out more about what to expect at an Oddfellows social event and request a free information pack using the button below.
2. Neighbourhood hubs
If we try to think of some positives that came from the pandemic, many people would probably agree a greater sense of community was one of the main ones.
From clapping for key workers every Thursday to checking whether elderly neighbours needed food or essentials, lots of us found that – in spite of the loneliness we might have felt – a stronger sense of society was established.
Cut off from family and friends, many of us began chatting to neighbours over garden fences or across balconies. And while everyday life has settled back into normality, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting to know (or continuing to get to know) your neighbours better.
If you’d like to become more established in your local community, it’s worth downloading the free app Nextdoor, where you can connect with people in your area.
Nextdoor is a great way to meet your neighbours and feel connected, and it also keeps you informed about what’s going on in your local area. You can arrange a street party, plan barbecues for your building, or simply swap local knowledge, recommendations, and safety tips.
Even if you don’t make any particularly good friends this way, it’s always nice to be on friendly terms with people who live near you. It’s comforting to know there’s someone happy to help out should you need it; whether that’s feeding your cat, watering the plants while you’re away, or picking up your post.
Another neighbourhood hub that you might like to check out is Near Neighbours, which aims to improve communities by bringing neighbours together and developing relationships in multi-faith areas.
3. Friendship apps
If you enjoy using apps but aren’t looking for love, why not consider making some new friends online through friendship apps and websites?
Stitch is one of the world’s leading social apps for the over 50s. You can use it to find like-minded people in your area, arrange get-to-know-each-other dinners, find travel companions and exercise buddies, or simply swap messages and chat.
You can meet up with people in person or, if you’d prefer to remain online, Stitch has also introduced new kinds of virtual events, group chats, and online discussions.
Bumble BFF is another friendship app that’s used by people of all ages. You can connect with other people looking for friendship near you, using filters like age and distance to tailor your search.
Once you’ve read another member’s profile and decided whether or not you have things in common, all you have to do is swipe right if you’d like to connect. If both parties swipe right, you’ll then have 24 hours to initiate a conversation.
4. Meet people through your dog
If you’re a dog owner, you might be interested in using social apps like Pawmate. Pawmates is a service designed to help both dogs and their owners meet new people…because dogs need friends too, of course! The app is location-based, so you can connect with other dog owners in your local area.
It’s also worth seeing if there are any groups that already meet regularly in your local park or common. You can often find out about these on local noticeboards, via local Facebook groups, or by word of mouth if you stop to chat with people when walking your dog.
If you can’t locate a group, you could consider starting one yourself. Remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a large group. Chances are that you’ll bump into a few of the same people while you’re out walking, so why not ask one or two of them if they’d be interested in a regular meet-up for your dogs to play?
Dog walking is a convenient way to meet new people while giving you the chance to stretch your legs. Plus, seeing your dog playing with their new friend is just an added bonus. You can read more in our article; The health benefits of dog walking.
5. Facebook groups
If you’re on Facebook, it might be worth joining one of the many groups that exist there.
Joining a Facebook group makes it quick and easy to communicate with other people over shared interests. Often, there’s no pressure to meet up either, as you can still share tips, advice and stories about your hobbies and interests without leaving the comfort of your home.
You can create a Facebook group to chat about absolutely anything — your family, a book club, a film you love, etc – or you can join one of the many existing groups.
There are popular Facebook groups for house plant growers, people who share cleaning tips and tricks with each other, global food and recipes, people who’re gluten-free…the list is pretty much endless. There are over 10 million Facebook groups out there, so you’re sure to find one about something you love.
Facebook groups are also a very effective way to build a community around a brand, product, cause, or idea. Some examples of the biggest and most active existing Facebook groups are DIY On a Budget, Dogspotting, and Weird Secondhand Finds That Just Need To Be Shared – so you can see just how diverse Facebook groups are!
A group where members all pretend to be ants in an ant colony famously has nearly two million members…so, if you’re looking for a place to be playful and enjoy some light relief, you’ll find that on Facebook too.
There are lots of reasons to get stuck into volunteering. It can help us to develop a fresh sense of purpose, learn new skills, give back to our communities, and build confidence. But one benefit that many people don’t always consider is that volunteering can help us connect with others.
Volunteering puts us in situations where we can meet new people who have similar passions to us. Being united in a common pursuit and working towards specific goals with others can help us develop meaningful relationships.
If you have a special affinity for cuddly canine friends, one example of a great sociable volunteering opportunity is becoming a volunteer for Guide Dogs UK.
They’re currently looking for fundraising group co-ordinators all over the country; a role that involves organising a wide range of events – from pub quizzes to bowling nights – to help raise funds and awareness. It’s the ideal role for someone sociable who’s looking to meet new people.
To search for other volunteering opportunities and get inspired, check out the volunteering section of our website.
7. Online dating
If you’re looking to meet a potential romantic partner, there are dozens of dating websites and apps just waiting to be joined. Online dating is bigger than ever, with around four in 10 couples now meeting this way.
Online dating has never seemed so convenient, as you can take plenty of time to get to know someone via phone, email, or video chat before actually meeting them in person.
One of the great things about the prevalence of online dating is that there’s a website out there for everyone.
There are the ‘big ones’, like Match.com and Eharmony, which have millions of members and cater to people of all ages and backgrounds. But there are also dating sites aimed specifically at people over 50, like Rest Less Dating.
And then there are the niche dating sites – for example, those aimed specifically at vegetarians and vegans, animal lovers, and people who love nothing more than muddy country walks.
So if you’re curious about dipping your toe into the online dating pool, why not give it a try? Even if you don’t find someone you spark romantically with, who knows…they might still become a new friend.
Note: It’s important to remember that when talking to someone new online, you should never give out personal information that could put you or your finances in jeopardy. This includes, but is not limited to, your home address and bank details.
While the majority of people use online dating sites to find love or companionship, unfortunately, some use them as an opportunity to scam others. So it’s important to keep any sensitive information private, and beware of anyone asking for money – no matter how much you like them.
8. Community forums
While joining groups is great for people with specialised interests, many of us want to meet new people in a more general setting and talk about a really wide range of topics.
Community forums are great places to do this because you can engage with others by sharing knowledge, debating topics, and chatting about anything and everything.
If you haven’t checked it out already, a popular forum that might interest you is Reddit. Also known as ‘the front page of the internet’, Reddit sees millions of visitors every day. It’s an exciting arena to debate current affairs, share jokes and ideas, vote on polarising topics, and reply to threads in the countless different sections of the site (these are known as ‘subreddits’).
There are also plenty of more specialised forums based around interests including gardening, cooking, DIY, travel, and reading – just to name a few. To find more niche forums, simply Google your area of interest along with ‘community forum’ and see what comes up.
9. Support groups
Meeting new people doesn’t always have to be in the interest of finding new friends or a romantic partner. In fact, it can also mean finding people to support you if you’re going through a difficult time.
Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, loneliness, bereavement, or any other issue, there are lots of support groups out there to help. Some provide online or telephone support, but many groups meet up in person – and being able to speak face-to-face with people who’ve had similar experiences to you can be very therapeutic.
If you want to see what type of support groups are available to you, have a look at these NHS-recommended ones. Mental health charity Mind also provides guides to help support people and has its own online community Side by Side, where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through. You can listen, share, and be heard – all without judgement.
If you’re caring for an elderly or sick relative – or supporting a loved one with a mental health problem – you might like to consider joining a support group for carers. Carers UK offers both online support and in-person, local support – you can find groups near where you live here. Age UK also provides local support for carers looking after loved ones with dementia.
If you can’t find a support group in your community that meets your needs, you could always consider starting your own. Even if you don’t currently know anyone who’s gone or going through the same experiences as you, there’s nothing stopping you from building your own community of support.
Setting up your own support group can be an incredibly rewarding thing to do. However, when starting out, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can’t help everyone. The broader your support group, the more difficult it can be to help other members understand their similarities and connect in a meaningful way.
Some people find it helpful to seek out professional assistance before joining a support group – for example, from social service workers, doctors, therapists, or members of the council. People like this might be able to help with things like providing referrals to your group or helping you find a practical meeting venue.
You’ll also need to think about any expenses (for example, will you need to fundraise?), how you’ll let people know about your group, and what group guidelines you want to set out.
To find out more about starting a support group, have a read of this informative guide by UK charity Adfam.
We all know how important it is to feel connected with others. And many studies show that interacting with people, even on a shallow level, helps to boost our wellbeing and contributes to a better sense of belonging.
With the development of technology and the internet, as well as a little added human resourcefulness, we’re no longer limited to the same old methods of meeting new people.
By expanding the different ways you meet new friends, romantic interests, and supportive networks, you’ll also expand the variety of people that you meet – helping you to find new adventures and adopt new perspectives.
For more ideas on how to build new connections, why not have a read of our article; 11 ways to make new friends? And if you’re happy meeting people in a virtual setting, why not check out Rest Less Events? Through Rest Less Events, you can attend a variety of online lectures, workshops, and clubs – from our weekly lunch club to history talks and exercise classes.
How do you meet new people? do you have any tips and tricks to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.