“If you had told me a few years ago that I would be helping people combat loneliness and contribute to the local economy by getting people out and about –
I probably would have thought you were joking”. Eternity Hausen.
There are those who are blessed with the innate ability to sit down with whomever they choose and start a conversation. I hadn’t ever been jealous of those people because I always had a great social circle.
But, when I first moved to Canberra from Brisbane for work, I was struck by how isolated I felt. I had always surrounded myself with friends, knowing they weren’t far from me for a coffee or a catch up. But, for the first time, I was unsure of how to make new friends and it was a daunting thought.
Friendship is born out of a lot of different things; catch-ups, moaning about partners, laughing about work or what to make for dinner that night.
There is nothing worse than moving to a new city and not knowing anyone. I think I had always taken friendship for granted, but working long hours in a new city where people tended to stay indoors in cold weather, suddenly changed all of this. I became really lonely and realised finding new friends was genuinely hard.
With this in mind, I refused to be complacent about what I was going through. The worst thing is feeling down and not knowing how to get you back up. I set up a Facebook page to meet people and I called it ‘Say Hello Kingston’, to help people like me in and around Kingston.
I knew Facebook alone wouldn’t be nearly enough to get the word out there, so I dropped leaflets in mailboxes in the hopes of having more than one person partake.
I was stunned to find so many people attending events and saying they were experiencing exactly how I felt – that Canberra was an extremely lonely place to live because it was hard to find friends outside of the workplace.
The response was overwhelming.
There have been people from all walks of life – we have doctors, real estate agents, business analysts and nurses. There are members with children, members without, retirees and grandparents. Say Hello Kingston became so popular, it evolved into a business and it has continued to grow.
As my business has grown, I have included a membership fee that includes exclusive discounts for members and unique opportunities for local businesses to get involved. We host breakfasts, brunches, walks and game nights at restaurants and cafes on the Kingston Foreshore and are now looking to expand across other suburbs in Canberra. I am looking at launching a Say Hello Braddon page for a similar effect along with other cities across Australia.
As an IT business analyst, if you had told me a few years ago that I would be helping people combat loneliness and contribute to the local economy by getting people out and about – I probably would have thought you were joking. But, my Say Hello business has turned into a successful and ever-growing social networking group that is helping people overcome loneliness by enabling them to meet new friends.
It’s amazing what you can do with the hand you are dealt.
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Thankyou.. YMag Team