Developing friendships...a simple answer?
We have known for a while now, reflecting on the work of Time to Shine’s local evaluation team, that the simple solution to reducing loneliness is to help people make friends. Of course, if it was that simple we’d be done and dusted by now, everyone would have some new friends and we could head off home!
The problem here of course is helping people to make friends. Most of us weren’t that great at it when pushed off into the playground by our mums, and although some people learn how to do it as they grow older, for others it becomes harder, and the opportunities to do so become fewer.
The Time to Shine programme has been able to identify that the projects most likely to have successful outcomes offer people more of those chances to make friends. It’s not rocket science, but it does help if you think about it. Who has been to an evening class where it took you 13 weeks to find out the names of the people around you in the room? So don’t be the person running the knit ‘n natter that turns out to be all knit.
It can come down to simple matters of design and timing – build in a social element to a class, make dedicated time and space for a chat, make sure there are introductions - and friendship will flow much faster.
We have published a report and a toolkit, which you can download:
- The complexity of loneliness and meaningful relationships (Time to Shine report)
- Developing friendships (Time to Shine toolkit)
Gathering and disseminating learning from the Time to Shine programme is a key part of our legacy.
Learning Facilitator, Time to Shine