With friend counts declining when we hit 24, Tori Attwood asks how you can find friends in the city centre
I snared my first ever friend by offering her a melted chocolate biscuit. I’d been holding it in my clammy tiny palm for ten minutes whilst I enjoyed my squash at snack time in pre-school. My soon-to-be friend had just dropped her biscuit on the floor and so I chivalrously offered her mine. And then, after she gobbled the sticky snack, I asked her to be my friend. Simple as that.
Fast forward 20 years, and making friends is a heck of a lot harder than breaking biscuits. If a 25 year-old-woman offers you a crusty old digestive from the depths of her bag and asks you to be her mate, you’d be forgiven for thinking she's a bit odd. But perhaps it is this stiff adultness that is holding us back.
Studies show that when adults hit 24, their friendship numbers begin to decline thanks to relocation, relationships and work. We're also in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, with 2.4 million Brits suffering from loneliness and 16-24s being most vulnerable. So, British adults need genuine human interaction more than ever before.
When work commitments, relationships, hobbies and home life leave you pressed for time to see your current friends, making new ones can seem like a mammoth task. Fortunately there are tonnes of apps, events and experiences designed to help you make the move towards forging new friendships.
From apps that spark offline encounters to free meetups, here’s how you can make genuine connections in Manchester.
Bumble the ‘feminist Tinder’ has long been trying to create genuine connections for women. As well dating, the app has a friend option that encourages women to swipe through profiles and match based on shared interests. Matches can then strike up a conversation with one another and meet for a coffee.
Download Bumble BFF here
A collective of artists and event instigators, Girl Gang host immersive events designed to get you mingling. From Speedmate-ing – think Tinder for friends – to themed party nights and book clubs, Girl Gang is a go-to for anyone who’s looking to meet new people in the city centre. Sign up for their next event or get involved to host your own event.
Check out Girl Gang here
Citysocializer is a social media platform with a difference. Whilst Facebook is awash with flimsy friends, Citysocializer is designed with one goal in mind – connecting with people online that you can meet offline. Users can organise their own events and publicise them through the community, or join upcoming events in their area. From newbie drinks to film nights, the website is a great shout for anyone looking to broaden their social circle.
Check out Citysocializer here
Nothing beats a good ol’ chin-wag fuelled by your favourite brew. But sometimes, life gets in the way and it can be hard to pin down your friends for a coffee and catch up. Fortunately, the chatty café is here to lend its ear. Participating coffee shops allocate tables in their café, where participants can sit if they are open to talking to strangers – just look out for the chatty café sign. The scheme was started by Alexandra Hoskyn from Oldham after she noticed people in cafes that might need to talk. So far, Costa coffee shops across the city centre and Manchester Central library café have signed up for the scheme. So grab a drink, start a conversation and make friends the old-fashioned way – by talking face to face.
Find your nearest chatty café here
Free exercise classes
Team sports are great for meeting groups. But for those less nimble amongst us, exercise classes also offer great first encounters. Joining a gym can be a great way to find your tribe, but you don’t need to pay hefty subscription fees to meet like-minded people. There’s a host of free fitness activities on offer in the city centre. Manchester Road Runners meet weekly on Wednesday nights at the Wharf for a run along the canals before a drink or two in the pub afterwards. Never Stop Manchester host free outdoor circuits classes starting at Blacks Outdoors on Deansgate, complete with team activities and plenty of community spirit. And Lululemon (St Anns Square) and Patagonia ( 51 King Street) have free weekly and monthly yoga classes on offer for those on the hunt for a more relaxing meet and greet.
Looking for someone who can quote Friends, has a penchant for board games and likes weekly brunch dates? Then check Meetup. From the wonderfully weird to the more generic, Meetup has a group for everything and anything going on in Manchester. Whether you plan to spend your free time reading or roaming, cooking or coding, you’re sure to find a friend to join you in your escapades.
Check out Meetup in your area here