WHEN a Tamworth woman turned to social media to help find new friends, little did she know that within two months she’d be busier than ever and launching a brand new business venture.
After struggling to meet new people and with few social events in the diary leading up to Christmas, Michelle Cooper (31) decided to take the plunge and put a call out on a Facebook page looking for local women who fancied meeting up for a coffee or a drink.
Michelle was overwhelmed with the response. She received messages from more than 100 women who said they felt exactly the same and were glad she had spoken out. Since then, Michelle has organised several meetups across Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth and Lichfield has made new friends and is busier than ever.
As a result, the self-employed businesswoman has launched her new venture ‘Make New Friends’ which she hopes will help prevent women all over the UK from feeling lonely.
“I am so overwhelmed by how this has all come about from just sitting in my living room wondering how I can make friends,” Michelle said.
“It’s not that I don’t have any friends, but I work for myself from home, so I don’t have work colleagues; I’m not a mother so I don’t have those connections from school and mums’ groups either. I’ve tried going to fitness classes and events but then people just want to go home after, and I was the same, and to be honest, I didn’t want to go and play a sport to make friends, I just wanted someone to go for a coffee or a drink with.
“In the run-up to Christmas I realised that I didn’t have any office parties or nights out to get dressed up for, or to just enjoy a night out, so I decided to post a message on local Facebook pages in Tamworth, Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield to see if there were any women out there who fancied meeting up.
“I couldn’t believe the response. So many women felt the same. One messaged to say she is really lonely and has no friends. No-one should have to feel that way and it’s become my mission to make sure no-one feels that level of loneliness.
“I individually messaged all the women and created a private Facebook group in which we could chat and arrange meetups. I have already organised a number of successful meetups across the area with women coming along for a drink and chat and hitting it off right away.
“I have made some really promising friendships and am already busier than ever. Some of the other women have since met again in smaller groups. My mum was having the same issues and she’s also got a lot out of this as we’ve had women of all ages coming along and getting involved.”
Inspired and encouraged by the response, Michelle was moved to take it to the next level by making it even easier for more women to connect.
This week she has launched her new business ‘Make New Friends’ – a website which enables women to chat, meet and ultimately make new friends in a safe and secure environment.
Initially launching in Tamworth, Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield, Michelle then plans to roll it out to other areas. More than 90 women have already signed up.
Within the website are areas where women can arrange their own specific groups for particular events, meet-ups or activities such as walking or running, depending on their interests.
Michelle has also started securing discounts from businesses across the area including coffee shops, pubs, restaurants and salons. Namco in Tamworth, for example, is hosting the next Tamworth meet up with a complimentary round of adventure golf for the women.
Michelle added: “Make New Friends enables women to make contact in a safe online environment as I will personally verify each member’s account once I have met them face-to-face, and they can also get great discounts, which they can use when they meet up with their new friends. It’s also supporting businesses in the area by bringing lots of new customers through their doors.
“I wasn’t sure about posting to call for friends, but I’m so glad I did it. It’s already connected all these women and I feel this has really made a difference to their lives and I want to continue that journey.
“There is a £20 annual membership fee, but that’s just to make sure people are genuine about wanting to make friends. There are no other financial commitments and members will get some great discounts in return, as well as hopefully making lots of new friends for life.
“No matter how many members we get, everyone will always be made to feel welcome, so I’d encourage anyone who has sat at home feeling lonely or like they don’t have much of a social life to give it a try,” Michelle added.
For more information, visit https://makenewfriends.org.uk.