Lonely In London No Longer!

For women in this club, weekends are packed with fun and new friends.

Female friends enjoying themselves in a cafe.

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It is the famous English author, John Donne, who said: “ No man is an island,” in 1624. In the speech this line comes from, he also warned against isolation, and emphasized our basic human need for the company of others. And it is just this belief in the nurturing power of community, that has fuelled the rise and rise of the London Lonely Girls Club (LLGC) in his homeland, five centuries later. 

This club is an inspiring network for the tens of thousands of London women who want to overcome their feelings of disconnection and befriend and look out for each other in a city that Macrotrends reveals contains almost 10 milion people, with a documented "loneliness epidemic" as reported by Medium. This challenge is exacerbated by London’s greater numbers of newer arrivals compared to other cities, the city’s sprawl that makes heartwarming chance encounters less likely, and its many single-person households. The UK government even appointed its first Minister for Loneliness, reported Futures Centre in 2018.

Pushing back against big city loneliness
It takes courage to launch a club for the lonely, admitting that your life in a big capital city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As Holly Cooke, who founded the LLGC in 2018 when she struggled to make friends in London tells the Washington Post, “Saying that you’re lonely and you don’t have people around, admitting to that was really scary.” 

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A post shared by Holly Cooke (@holljc)

Finding friends to enjoy the city's world-famous cultural attractions with was hard, reported The Washington Post. Having moved to London for work and to enjoy all the cultural wealth it has to offer, “I was craving community and people; people who wanted to hang out and have fun,” explains Cooke, who admits to Googling “How to make friends in London,” soon after she arrived. "London is so big, it leaves a lot of space for loneliness," she tells BBC News.

Using dating app spinoff, Bumble BFF, Cooke met up with a handful of other women in a pancake house in central London, begging a friend to come along in case nobody else showed up. But show up they did, and they were all experiencing the same isolation as her. This positive meeting motivated her to reach out to more people in London’s seemingly transient urban hub. 

Cooke was inspired to set up a Facebook group, The London Lonely Girls Club, and was soon planning real world meet-ups in parallel, that took place around twice a month. This, as the If Lost Start Here blog documents, represented the start of a club that was “created to help women connect, make friends and beat loneliness.” 

Boosted by the pandemic experience, today’s network is thriving
Today, the LLGC has matured to become an online and physical community with around 31,000 members, 20,000 of them joining since pandemic restrictions ended, reports BBC News, following a period in which many more people were touched by loneliness. Its first post-Covid get-together sold out in five minutes. 

These women are aged from 18 to 70, with an average age of 28. The club is an inclusive, supportive and fun community that any woman in London can engage with to suit their lifestyles. “ Some want lifelong friends, others want a companion they can go to yoga with and there are those who want something in the middle,” Cooke tells OK Magazine.
The LLGC welcomes women who moved to London from other parts of the UK and other countries, as well as folks who’ve been Londoners all their lives, explains its website. It has led to scores of enduring friendships.

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A post shared by The London Lonely Girls club (@llgirlsclub)

There are multiple meet-ups each month, where members can get to know each other IRL while visiting some of London’s loveliest spots, or enjoying fun activities together. Members can choose from a range of activities to enjoy while socializing. These include puppy yoga, art and jewelry workshops, and picnics in London’s scenic parks.

Cooke has discussed her respect for her fellow London women who reach out to LLGC with the If Lost Start Here blog: “Every day the members of LLGC teach me about bravery and courage, whether it is sharing their story in our group’s main feed and looking for others who share a similar struggle or journey, stepping outside their comfort zone by coming along alone to our monthly IRL meet-ups and connecting with others in person over a coffee, burger or glass of wine, or simply revealing themselves by joining a community with lonely in the name.”

Going forward, she tells OK Magazine that she’d like to extend the club she founded to cater to men as well as women in other UK cities: “Loneliness isn’t limited to one city, one age or one gender,” she points out.

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