Why your company should help employees make friends

Why your company should help employees make friends

Having more friends can increase employee wellbeing as well as performance

3 min read

Friendship is the number one factor influencing our health, wellbeing and happiness according to social science research. And that is not only true in our general lives, but also at work. Time spent with coworkers stays fairly consistent for most of our adulthood, averaging 200 minutes per day before the pandemic.

According to Gallup, having a work best friend is associated with greater employee engagement, higher retention and increased likelihood to recommend the workplace. The data also indicate stronger business outcomes such as profitability, safety and retention. The relationships we create at work have a great impact.

Fragmented living and remote working has affected our friendships

Levels of loneliness have risen significantly in our modern society as our communities become more fragmented. Around 20% of adults under 34 report having only one or no close friends. 

The workplace traditionally provided a place to make friends but loneliness at work was growing before the pandemic hit. Increased remote and hybrid working since, has reduced opportunities for employees to get to know each other on a personal level and build strong relationships and a sense of belonging amongst peers. 

It’s important for people to build their friendship circle away from work to compensate for the lost opportunities for making friends with coworkers. Organisations can also help by increasing friendship opportunities between employees.

What are the benefits of having friends across the workplace?

People working in large organisations may struggle to know many people outside their immediate team and even in smaller companies employees may not spend enough social time together to actually get to know each other. Yet, when employees have strong relationships with each other, they are more likely to collaborate effectively, share ideas, and solve problems together. This can lead to a number of benefits, including:

Increased innovation: Employees who are friends are more likely to feel comfortable sharing unconventional or risky ideas which can boost innovation around problem solving and product or service development.

Improved productivity: Professionals who work well together are more productive being able to divide and conquer tasks, support each other when they get stuck, and learn from each other’s mistakes.

Higher employee satisfaction: Employees who have friends at work are more likely to enjoy their jobs and be satisfied with their careers as they have people they can socialise with, confide in, and ask for help from. This increases the likelihood of employees recommending their workplace and can boost retention.

How can companies support employees to make connections

BuddyHub has a methodology backed up by friendship scholars such as Robin Dunbar, author of “Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships” to help people build long lasting friendships via membership of our purposeful, intergenerational community.

A bespoke Friendship Finder technology and matching and introduction service helps members meet people with similar interests in their wider community. Company employees who are BuddyHub members also have the opportunity to be matched together and make informal connections outside the workplace.

If you would like to know more about how BuddyHub can help your employees find friends in their local community and new friendships across your workplace to improve their wellbeing, please contact the team at hello@buddyhub.co.uk.

The Ultimate Guide to Making Friends in London

Embracing the BuddyHub Experience

10 min read

Hey there, fellow newcomers to the vibrant and diverse city of London! Moving to this bustling metropolis can be an exciting yet somewhat overwhelming experience. From the iconic landmarks to the countless opportunities for personal growth, London has something for everyone. However, one challenge many newcomers face is making new friends in this vast city. Fear not! In this blog post, we’ll discuss what it’s like to be newly moved to London and provide you with five top tips on how to make new friends. Plus, we’ll introduce you to an incredible solution for forging meaningful connections – BuddyHub!

1. Embrace Your Inner Explorer

London is a treasure trove of experiences and adventures waiting to be discovered. One of the best ways to make friends is by exploring the city. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll in the Royal Parks, exploring a local market, or hopping on a double-decker bus, the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with fellow explorers – you never know where it might lead.

2. Join Local Clubs and Meetup Groups

The city is filled with diverse interest groups and clubs catering to various hobbies and passions. Whether you’re into art, photography, cooking, or something else entirely, there’s a group for you. Websites like Meetup and Facebook Groups are excellent resources for discovering local events and gatherings. Participating in these activities not only lets you pursue your interests but also provides an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.

3. Take Advantage of Social Media

In today’s digital age, social media platforms can be powerful tools for building new friendships. London has numerous local Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to events and happenings in the city. Additionally, apps like Bumble BFF or Meetup apps are designed to help you meet new people in your area. Use these platforms to connect with others who share your interests and values.

4. Attend Networking Events and Workshops

London is a thriving hub for networking events and workshops. From business conferences to creative workshops, there are countless opportunities to expand your social circle. Attend these events with an open mind, ready to learn and connect with fellow attendees. You never know who you might meet or what valuable friendships could develop.

5. Discover BuddyHub: Your Friendship Finder

If you’d like a more supportive approach to making friends in London, BuddyHub is a fantastic solution. Their friendly Community Hosts use innovative matching techniques to connect people looking for meaningful friendships. It’s like having a personal introduction service for your social life! 

Here’s why you should consider BuddyHub:

Personalised Matches: BuddyHub’s advanced technology creates personalized matches based on your interests, values, and location. You’re more likely to connect with people who share your passions.

Meaningful Connections: BuddyHub focuses on quality over quantity so the friendships you make are more likely to be genuine, long-lasting, and fulfilling.

Activities You Love: Their service helps you find people who enjoy the same activities you do. Whether it’s exploring art galleries, trying out new restaurants, or even just going for a walk, you can find friends who are up for it.

Easing Social Anxiety: Whether you are being matched one to one, into groups by interest or attending an event, Community Hosts help break the ice with introductions. 

Safety and Security: BuddyHub takes your safety seriously and ensures that all members are verified, creating a trustworthy environment for making friends.

So, there you have it! Making friends in London doesn’t have to be an intimidating process.

Embrace your new surroundings, explore your interests, and consider using BuddyHub on your journey to forming genuine connections. Remember, London is a city full of opportunities and friendly faces just waiting to be discovered. Go out there and make the most of your experience in this incredible city!

We wish you the best of luck in your quest to make friends in London. Welcome to this vibrant and exciting city – your new friends are just around the corner.

Why do we do this? Because friendship matters! It matters to us. It matters to you. Take a look at our website to find out more about how we can enrich your social life. Or contact us at hello@buddyhub.co.uk if you have any questions. 

The Power of Active Listening: Building Meaningful Friendships

Unlocking the Art of Active Listening

10 min read

In a world filled with noise and distractions, the art of active listening is often drowned out. We’ve all been there – nodding along to a friend’s story while our minds wander, waiting for our turn to speak. But what if I told you that active listening could be the key to forging more meaningful friendships? Let’s explore what active listening is, why so many of us struggle with it, and how it can enhance our connections with others.

Images By Peter Kindersley

Understanding Active Listening

Active listening is more than just hearing words; it’s about truly comprehending and engaging with what someone is saying. It involves giving your full attention to the speaker, both verbally and nonverbally, and seeking to understand their perspective without judgment. Active listening is a fundamental building block for forming deeper connections

The Epidemic of Non-Listening

In today’s fast-paced world, the art of active listening has been pushed aside. Many of us are guilty of “hearing” without truly listening. We’re preoccupied with our own thoughts, constantly checking our phones, or planning our responses before the speaker has finished. This epidemic of non-listening has far-reaching consequences, from strained relationships to missed opportunities for genuine connection.

The Power of Active Listening in Friendship

Active listening is a game-changer when it comes to building meaningful friendships.
Here’s how it works:

Fosters Trust: When you actively listen, you convey respect and empathy, which can deepen trust in your relationships.
Deepens Understanding: Active listening allows you to gain insights into your friends’ thoughts, feelings, and experiences, strengthening your bond.
Resolves Conflict: By truly hearing someone out, you can address misunderstandings and conflicts more effectively.
Boosts Self-Esteem: Being heard and understood validates a person’s feelings, boosting their self-esteem and strengthening your connection.

Top 10 Tips for Becoming an Active Listener

Give Your Full Attention: Put away distractions, make eye contact, and show you’re fully present.

Don’t Interrupt: Resist the urge to interrupt or offer advice until the speaker is finished.

Use Verbal Cues: Offer brief affirmations like “I see” or “I understand” to show you’re engaged.

Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage further conversation by asking questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Empathize: Try to understand the speaker’s emotions and acknowledge their feelings.

Avoid Judging: Suspend judgment and keep an open mind, even if you disagree with what’s being said.

Reflect and Summarize: Periodically reflect on what you’ve heard and summarize it to ensure you’re on the same page.

Use Nonverbal Cues: Nodding, smiling, and maintaining an open posture can show you’re engaged.

Stay Patient: Some people take time to express their thoughts fully; be patient and give them space.

Practice Mindfulness: Cultivate mindfulness to stay in the present moment and fully engage with the speaker.


Active listening is the secret sauce to forming deeper, more meaningful friendships. In a world where true connection can feel elusive, taking the time to listen actively can set you apart. By giving your full attention, empathizing, and suspending judgment, you’ll not only strengthen your existing friendships but also open the door to new, profound connections. So, let’s make a conscious effort to put down our distractions, quiet our inner chatter, and truly listen. Your friendships will thank you, and the rewards of genuine connection will be worth every moment of active listening.

Why do we do this? Because friendship matters! It matters to us. It matters to you. Take a look at our website to find out more about how we can enrich your social life. Or contact us at hello@buddyhub.co.uk if you have any questions. 

Bridging the Gap: Overcoming Social Anxiety with Conversation Starters

Making Friends in a World of Social Anxiety

10 min read

In a world where social interactions are increasingly vital, for personal and professional growth alike, making friends can be a daunting task (check out our blog on what social anxiety actually is). For many, social anxiety is a significant barrier to forming meaningful connections. One of the primary reasons for this anxiety is the fear of gaps in conversations or the dreaded small talk. The fear of awkward silence can be paralysing, causing some to withdraw from social situations altogether. But fear not! There is a simple yet powerful tool that can help you bridge that gap and build meaningful connections: conversation starters.

The Struggle of Small Talk and Social Anxiety

Small talk often gets a bad rep. It’s considered superficial and often boring. However, it plays a crucial role in the initial stages of forming relationships. It helps break the ice, establishes rapport, and sets the stage for deeper, more meaningful conversations. But for individuals with social anxiety, navigating small talk can feel like a treacherous journey into uncharted waters.

The fear of running out of things to say or saying the wrong thing can be paralysing. It leads to overthinking, sweaty palms, and a racing heart—classic symptoms of social anxiety. The result? Missed opportunities to connect with others, make new friends, or even advance in your career.

The Power of Conversation Starters

Conversation starters are like a lifeline for individuals dealing with social anxiety. They provide a structured and safe way to begin a conversation and keep it flowing. By having a set of go-to questions or topics, you can alleviate the pressure of coming up with something interesting to say on the spot. This tool can help you overcome the fear of awkward silences and empower you to build deeper, more meaningful connections.

10 Conversation Starters to Forge Genuine Connections

“What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you recently?” This question allows people to share their positive experiences and passions.

“If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” Travel dreams can reveal a lot about a person’s interests and values.

“What’s your favourite book or movie, and what do you love about it?” This question taps into personal preferences and can lead to engaging discussions about storytelling and creativity.

“Do you have any hobbies or interests that you’re passionate about?” Discovering shared interests can be the foundation of a strong connection.

“Tell me about your favourite childhood memory.” Nostalgia often brings out heartfelt stories and shared experiences.

“What’s a goal or dream you’re working toward right now?” Discussing aspirations can reveal a lot about a person’s ambition and drive.

“If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and why?” This question can lead to fascinating discussions about history and inspiration.

“What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t had the chance to?” Learning about someone’s unexplored interests can open the door to future activities together.

“What’s your favourite way to relax and unwind?” Understanding how someone decompresses can help you plan future hangouts.

“Tell me about a random act of kindness you’ve experienced or performed.” This question encourages positive storytelling and emphasises the importance of empathy.

The Benefits of Conversation Starters

Using conversation starters isn’t about being artificial or insincere; it’s about providing a comfortable starting point for meaningful conversations. By using these prompts, you can:

Alleviate Anxiety: Conversation starters take the pressure off, allowing you to focus on the interaction rather than your anxiety.

Build Rapport: These questions create an environment where you and your conversation partner can get to know each other better.

Find Common Ground: Discovering shared interests or experiences can lead to deeper connections and potential future activities together.

Forge Meaningful Relationships: By initiating meaningful conversations, you lay the groundwork for long-lasting friendships and connections.

In conclusion, social anxiety can make making friends and engaging in small talk seem like insurmountable challenges. However, with the help of conversation starters, you can transform these interactions into opportunities for genuine connection. Remember, everyone has their own fears and insecurities, so taking the initiative to start a conversation can be a gift to both you and your potential friend. Embrace the power of conversation starters and watch your social anxiety melt away as you build meaningful connections, one question at a time.

Why do we do this? Because friendship matters! It matters to us. It matters to you. Take a look at our website to find out more about how we can enrich your social life. Or contact us at hello@buddyhub.co.uk if you have any questions. 

What is ‘Social Anxiety’?

Navigating the Storm: Understanding and Overcoming Social Anxiety

10 min read

Picture this: you’re at a social gathering, surrounded by laughter, chatter, and the hum of mingling voices. While others seem to effortlessly navigate the sea of conversations, you find yourself clinging to the edge, unsure of how to jump into the tide. You’re not alone. If you’ve ever felt that knot of unease in your stomach when facing a new social situation or struggled to find the right words, you’re experiencing what’s commonly known as social anxiety.

But here’s the reassuring truth: we all dip our toes into the waters of social anxiety from time to time, and it’s absolutely okay. It’s a natural part of being human. Just like a wave that rises and falls, these feelings can wash over us and then recede, leaving behind moments of growth and newfound confidence.

In this post, let’s delve into what social anxiety really is, why it’s perfectly normal, and how you can navigate these waves with self-compassion and a sense of camaraderie. So, let’s set sail on this journey, knowing that the waters may be choppy at times, but there’s a whole community out here, riding those waves right alongside you.

What’s the Deal with Social Anxiety?

Okay, so picture this: it’s like you’re at an event, and your brain suddenly decides to perform havoc with your heartbeat. Social anxiety is like that – an intense fear of judgement, making you want to run all the way home. But don’t worry, it’s not a permanent feeling and we’re about to show you how to recognise and manage social anxiety so that you’re in control.

5 Telltale Signs of Social Anxiety:

Overthinking Overdrive: Constantly replaying conversations in your head like a broken record? Yep, that’s the overthink express, and it’s a classic social anxiety symptom.

Avoidance Olympics: You’d rather face a pack of wild squirrels than attend a social event? Trust us, you’re not alone. Avoiding situations that trigger anxiety is a common coping mechanism.

Butterfly Brigade: That butterfly feeling in your stomach before a social event.

Inner Critic Invasion: Your inner critic is in overdrive, and it’s all about highlighting your supposed flaws for everyone to see.

Small Talk Tango: The mere thought of small talk might send you running. Who knew talking about the weather could be so intimidating? (We’ve got a great blog post here on navigating the world of small talk).

Are any of these symptoms starting to feel familiar? There is no need to worry. The key to managing social anxiety is recognising that you might be feeling it in the first place. Once you can spot what your body is thinking and feeling; you can start to put some tips and tricks into practice that will help you manage social situations with ease.

5 ways to tackle social anxiety

Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

  • Mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises can help you stay present in social situations and manage anxiety. These practices can also improve your overall emotional well-being.

Set Realistic Goals:

  • Start with small, achievable social goals. Gradually increase the complexity of these goals as you become more comfortable. Celebrate your successes, no matter how minor they may seem.

Challenge Negative Thoughts:

  • Recognize and challenge irrational thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. Ask yourself if your fears are based on facts or assumptions. Try to reframe your thoughts in a more positive and realistic light.

Social Skills Training:

  • Seek opportunities to improve your social skills. Join clubs, classes, or support groups where you can practise interacting with others in a low-pressure environment. The more you practise, the more confident you will become.

Try a friendship finder service:

  • We created BuddyHub to help match people based on their common interests, which means that you can talk about things you have in common. This helps to reduce the anxiety of conversations and with our regular online and in-person meet-ups, it also takes the pressure off of 1-on-1 conversations. If you want to see how else BuddyHub can support you click here.

Remember that progress may be gradual, and setbacks are normal. Be patient with yourself and stay committed to your efforts to overcome social anxiety. If needed, consult with a mental health professional who can provide personalised guidance and support.

Why do we do this? Because friendship matters! It matters to us. It matters to you. Take a look at our website to find out more about how we can enrich your social life. Or contact us at hello@buddyhub.co.uk if you have any questions. 

Football Friendzy: Exploring Famous Football Friendships

Football Friendzy: Exploring Famous Football Friendships

10 min read

Football is more than just a game; it’s a universal language that transcends borders, cultures, and backgrounds. It has an unparalleled ability to bring people together and forge friendships that last a lifetime. Just like the dynamic duos of Alessia Russo and Ella Toone or Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka, football friendships exemplify the power of camaraderie and teamwork.

Alessia Russo and Ella Toone: United by Passion

Alessia Russo and Ella Toone met at school aged 12 but their partnership isn’t just about their on-field chemistry at Manchester United; it’s a testament to the deep bond that forms when individuals share a common passion. Their friendship thrives off mutual respect and a shared dream of success, proven with the continuity of their friendship despite the transfer of Russo to Arsenal. They also call themselves the Lionesses’ party animals!

Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka: Breaking Boundaries

Football friendships like that of Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka showcase how the sport can shatter barriers and bridge gaps. These players come from diverse backgrounds and rival clubs yet their shared experience on the international field has brought them together as allies. And it’s humour that is key to their bond with Saka saying Shaw is ‘so funny, he’s alway just trying to annoy me’ and Shaw returning the compliment saying Saka is ‘so funny and makes everyone laugh and he doesn’t mean it’

Where Football and Friendship Collide

Football is a unifying force that brings people together, and BuddyHub harnesses that power to unite individuals who share a love for football so they can experience the magic of friendship through a common passion.

Why not join BuddyHub’s ‘Football Friendzy: Premier League Chatter Series 3.0’. You can just listen in to the chat or else the floor is yours to have your say on all things football.

Join the event
🗓️ Monday 2nd October
⏰ 6:30pm

National Portrait Gallery Tour

Exploring Greatness: The National Portrait Gallery and Its Enchanting Treasures

10 min read

Art is a universal language that transcends time and culture, and one place that beautifully captures the essence of this sentiment is the National Portrait Gallery. This iconic institution is a treasure trove of portraits that vividly depict the stories of individuals who have shaped history, culture, and society. If you’re seeking a captivating and enriching experience, look no further than the tour of the National Portrait Gallery, happening on Saturday 9th September. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons why the gallery is truly remarkable, and why attending the tour is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. Plus, we’ll reveal five fascinating facts about the gallery that might surprise you.

Join the BuddyHub Tour at The National Portrait Gallery this Saturday!

This Saturday, BuddyHub’s Culture Club will be joining the 3pm tour of the National Portrait Gallery. Offering a unique and enriching experience that goes beyond simply viewing art. Here’s why you should mark your calendar for this Saturday:

Guided Insights: The gallery’s knowledgeable guides will provide fascinating insights into the lives of the individuals depicted in the portraits. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of their significance and the context in which they lived.

Interactive Exploration: The tour isn’t a one-sided monologue. It’s an interactive experience where you can ask questions, share your thoughts, and engage in discussions with fellow participants.

Curated Selection: The tour covers a curated selection of portraits, ensuring that you’ll see some of the most captivating and historically significant pieces in the collection.

Group Dynamics: Exploring the gallery in a group adds a social dimension to the experience. You’ll have the chance to share your perspectives and hear diverse viewpoints from others.

Lasting Memories: The National Portrait Gallery has a way of leaving a lasting impact. You’ll leave the tour with new knowledge, fresh perspectives, and a deeper appreciation for the power of portraiture.

Five Fun Facts About the National Portrait Gallery:

Unconventional Beginnings: The National Portrait Gallery was established in 1856 in London, making it the first portrait gallery in the world. It was initially founded in a somewhat unconventional space: a room above a shop on Great George Street.

Hidden Faces: The gallery doesn’t only showcase realistic portraits. You’ll find abstract representations, caricatures, and even portraits that hide the subject’s face, encouraging viewers to think beyond traditional portraiture.

Secret Door: The gallery holds a “secret” door known as the “Anamorphosis Door.” When viewed from a specific angle, this door displays a distorted portrait that can only be properly seen through a peephole.

Modern Collection: While the gallery is known for historical portraits, it also houses a contemporary collection featuring individuals who have made a significant impact in recent times, ensuring that the narrative remains current.

Portrait Restaurant: The gallery offers more than just art; it also boasts the Portrait Restaurant on its top floor. Here, you can enjoy exquisite cuisine while overlooking breathtaking views of London’s skyline.


The National Portrait Gallery isn’t just a place to admire art; it’s a journey through time, history, and humanity. Attending the tour is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the stories of remarkable individuals and gain a new perspective on the world. With its diverse artistic offerings, interactive experiences, and lasting impact, the gallery promises an unforgettable outing that will leave you inspired and enlightened. Don’t miss the chance to embark on this enriching adventure into the world of portraiture.

Join the event
🗓️ Saturday 9th September
⏰ 2:30pm
📍National Portrait Gallery

Women’s World Cup + Gender Equality

The Women’s World Cup:
A Pinnacle of Women’s Football

10 min read

The Women’s World Cup is not just a tournament; it’s a celebration of talent, dedication, and perseverance of female athletes on the global stage. With every edition, this event grows in significance, showcasing the remarkable progress women’s football has made over the years. From stunning goals to nail-biting matches, the Women’s World Cup captivates audiences and emphasizes the prowess of female footballers.

Important Moments for Women’s Football

The Women’s World Cup isn’t just about the matches, but also the impact it has on the world of women’s football. It brings attention to key issues such as gender parity, empowering female athletes, and inspiring young girls to dream big. Moments that resonate include Marta’s record-breaking goals, Megan Rapinoe’s fiery advocacy for equality, and the emergence of underdog teams challenging the status quo, and this year was no different. These moments underline the growing influence of women’s football on and off the field.

Lewes FC Leading the Way for Equal Gender Pay

In 2017 Lewes FC, a football club in England, etched their name in history by becoming the first club to enforce equal gender pay among their male and female players. This groundbreaking decision sends a powerful message: footballers’ value is not determined by gender. By acknowledging and rectifying the wage gap, Lewes FC demonstrates a commitment to gender equality and fairness in sports. Their progressive stance paves the way for other clubs to follow suit and helps reshape the landscape of football, fostering an environment where female players are valued as equals.

Looking ahead

The Women’s World Cup continues to inspire and elevate women’s football to new heights. Each tournament sparks conversations about equality, representation, and the need to invest in the growth of the women’s game. Lewes FC’s decision to enforce equal gender pay amplifies these discussions and sets an example for clubs worldwide to prioritise parity.

As the world embraces the excitement of the Women’s World Cup and the progressive actions of clubs like Lewes FC, it’s clear that women’s football is not just a sport—it’s a movement. It’s a rallying cry for gender equity and an affirmation that the time for change is now. These moments, both on the global stage and within individual clubs, drive home the point that football is for everyone, regardless of gender, and that the future holds even greater promise for women in sports.

If these talking points appeal to you, why not join BuddyHub’s ‘Football Friendzy: Premier League Chatter Series 2.0’, where the floor is yours to have your say on all things football.

Next Football Friendzy: Tuesday 5th September | 6:30pm | Online Event

BuddyHub: The Membership Community Just For You

BuddyHub: The Membership Community Just For You

9 min read

What makes BuddyHub different? What is it about the way we operate that sets us apart from other friendship clubs? Unsurprisingly, these are questions we ask ourselves regularly!

Not just because we’re always trying to provide a better service and improve the member experience. But also because we’re genuinely committed to engaging members in the ongoing development of BuddyHub’s community.

Let’s take a look at what we mean by this.

Doing things with you not to you

Our vision is to create a better-connected world where anyone can make meaningful new friendships and find greater personal fulfilment.

We are an intergenerational friendship club. And believe we are unique in this respect. We want to give adults of all ages living in London many opportunities to meet people with shared interests, build and sustain their social circles and experience a deep sense of community. 

Enabling them to make new friends and enjoy new experiences. Helping them to feel a sense of purpose in uncertain times. Providing a welcoming environment for people who may feel marginalised in the community for whatever reason. Creating space for friendship with people you might never meet in the normal course of life. 

That’s all very well, you might say. But how do we actually translate these fine sentiments into the real world?

We’re glad you asked! There have been conversations about what we mean by ‘participation’ and ‘engagement’ in our sector for a long time. A key theme is that ‘audiences’ don’t actually exist. Rather, people exist, working together to find creative solutions to the challenges they face. So, the question we’re asking ourselves and our stakeholders is:

How do we create an intergenerational friendship community built on kindness and purpose by tapping into people’s knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment?

The beauty of this approach is that it offers people the opportunity to help deliver our collective vision, build community engagement, and help us, in our own small way, to make the world a better place.

Hearing your voices

Our starting point is that most people recognise the importance of friendship in their lives. What they don’t always know is where to find it. Or how to go about making it happen in a way that works for them. 

And, let’s be honest, making and retaining friends can be difficult. It takes time and effort to get to know people, develop deeper emotional bonds, and make the space in your life to sustain those friendships. That’s assuming, of course, you have the opportunity to meet the right people in the first place!

Perhaps this is why research indicates that 20% of those under 34 have only one or no close friends. A slightly troubling statistic, I think we can all agree!

Given these challenges, it’s not surprising that a variety of friendship solutions and communities have sprung up over the years. Some offline, some online. However, many offer limited value. evolving around a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t suit many people, or a narrowly defined niche that suits even fewer.

To move beyond these limitations we want to make our members feel valued. Using our unique Friendship Finder, our Friendship Wheel service matches members who we feel will likely click. To oil the wheels of friendship we make initial suggestions around where to meet and what to do, based on shared interests, beliefs and values. But then it’s really all about empowering members to enjoy new experiences with their new friends. 

We are also inviting members to co-design our newer Friendship Clubs service, and take the lead on the management of the Clubs at a community level once we’ve helped them develop a momentum of their own. 

We want people to feel that they belong to something that belongs to them. We want people to feel passionate about BuddyHub. We want the people BuddyHub serves to shape BuddyHub’s future.

We make the road by walking

This means going beyond a default transactional focus on growing membership numbers or extending our geographical reach beyond our current areas of operation to looking more broadly at how we add value to people’s lives and help them thrive.

It means developing a deep understanding of what members want, seeking out local community knowledge, and recognising that people have different perspectives, with every individual bringing their own unique experiences to the table.

It means marrying our understanding of the social science behind friendship formation to a willingness to let go of preconceptions about how best to develop our unique service model at a community level.

It means making space for members to participate in the way they want to participate, allowing them to bring their skills and experience to bear, and allowing us to learn from the wisdom of others.  

It means recognising that we’re all different. Some people are natural extroverts. Others are natural introverts. Others sit somewhere in the middle. On top of this, many people experience social anxiety. And find turning up to events on their own or when they don’t know anyone challenging. So, we design our services to meet differing social needs. We address social anxiety issues in various ways, through, for example, our ‘Meet the Host’ bios and short video calls arranged ahead of an event so you know who you’ll be meeting. We’re continuing to develop additional support in this area, based on member needs.

Finally, it means recognising that members want to feel safe when using BuddyHub services and interacting with other members. Everyone who joins our community is required to verify their identity with photo ID and a proof of address which we check at an in-person meeting.

Investing in your wellbeing

Importantly, our mission is underpinned by our legal structure. As a social enterprise and community interest company we are committed to reinvesting a majority of any future profits to grow our reach, achieve sustainability and deliver our social mission. Community benefits and member needs drive what we do.

We want to encourage experimentation, learn from what works and create a channel for new ideas about how to deliver our mission to build community engagement. It’s a shared journey where we all contribute to the betterment of our collective physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

We want people to take ownership of their social lives and create the conditions for more rewarding life experiences. Experiencing a greater sense of community participation. And exploring opportunities to find deeper fulfilment as human beings.

Why do we do this? Because friendship matters! It matters to us. It matters to you. Take a look at our website to find out more about how we can enrich your social life. Or contact us at hello@buddyhub.co.uk if you have any questions. 

Reflections on BuddyHub’s New ‘Connecting Through Questions’ Events So Far!

Reflections on BuddyHub’s New ‘Connecting Through Questions’ Events So Far!

6 min read

As an organisation, BuddyHub has always been intrigued by how friendship works. Not just the positive stuff. How we find a common spark and try to make sense of the world together. But the things that get in the way. The barriers that make cultivating connections with new people difficult. And the mechanisms that we can use to bypass them or knock them down. 

It’ll come as no surprise, then, that we’ve been trialling an event since the beginning of the year that takes a close look at exactly what helps people to connect. When conceptualising these events, our aim  was simple: design an evening where people who don’t know each other meet for the first time and feel connected to each other by the end of the session.

Sounds easy, huh? Not quite! 

Asking questions, making connections

For sure, we’ve had our own experience of connecting people through our Friendship Wheels. To begin with, these were predominantly intergenerational, though age-peer friendships often developed within them as our initial operating model enabled Buddies to meet up and get to know each other too. 

We also had the feedback we’d gathered from co-design sessions we undertook last year with Professor Robin Dunbar, a leading expert in the social science which underpins friendships. It’s been a privilege working with Robin. And the sessions gave us the opportunity to identify the things that helped people connect effectively. One key insight was that people felt most connected to one another only when the social anxiety of being in a room with new people had subsided. The most effective way to do this? Make them laugh! 

As you might expect, there was no magic formula to underlay the design of the sessions. But what became clear was we could encourage participants to take ownership of this opportunity to get to know each other and make one another laugh by priming them with a set of  questions. Constructing them in an open-ended style meant people could think about their answers whilst also giving them the opportunity to pass or pontificate on their answer. The questions ranged from the light-hearted, through the obviously silly, to deeper questions that facilitated self-disclosure.

The beauty of this approach is that good quality questions encourage people to open up about themselves, talk about what makes them tick and discuss what they value most. Participating in these sessions, you can’t help but listen with open ears as your curiosity is piqued about the other people in the group. Especially, if you find things that make you laugh! In the process, you start to move beyond the superficial (and often painful) interactions that tend to characterise first encounters and start to build something authentic together.

Building a shared reality

At our successful first event, we found out about people’s past, their hopes, dreams and fears, and their favourite way to eat ice cream! 

By the time the next event came around, we had gathered a larger group. Ranging from women in their 50s to men in their early twenties, coming from various parts of the world. They all had their own perspectives on life, formed by their different life experiences. But they also had something in common: the desire to connect meaningfully with other like-minded people. 

And we took the opportunity to reflect on some of the biggest challenges facing the world today, including toxic masculinity and the war in Ukraine. Subjects that, without the space for discussion, go on living in our heads, not always to our benefit. The crucial thing was that we tackled these often difficult topics in a spirit of enquiry, in a compassionate way, reflecting respectfully on each person’s contribution.

At the most recent session, we had an incredibly stimulating conversation which culminated in the discovery that all attendees shared a common thread. They were all artists. One still early in her journey, painting landscapes as she learned about colour theory and approached retirement. Another a seasoned artist who spoke of the nuances required in painting pet portraits and capturing the reflection of the owner in their eyes. We talked about the process we took to create the art and what the essence of creativity is all about.

What strikes us as fascinating in all of this is how we can use our exploration of things beyond ourselves to help strike up a rapport with people we’ve never met before. As the American poet E.E. Cummings said: “Always the more beautiful answer, who asks the more beautiful question.”

We’re certainly looking forward to our next session on 5th April. Who knows what we’ll find out about one another! 

Why not sign up? Join us by following this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/opportunity-for-friendship-and-connection-through-questions-tickets-587703435797?aff=Blog