Finding a circle of friends   28 Jun 2006

Rob Branston

COMMUNITY: London, with good cause, is often touted as one of the best cities in the world, but for all its shopping, history, culture and nightlife many Londoners lead a limited social life.

The Unilever Family Report, Home Alone? found that London has the highest number of people living alone in the country.

In the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, almost half the population live alone. It also revealed that 94 per cent of Londoners thought it was important to live alone before settling down.

I moved to London 10 years ago and was unsurprised by these statistics. So I set up a modern day social club – www.myexpandedcircle.com. I believe the problem is due to four main factors:

• There is so much pressure put on people today by their work;

• People go travelling for long periods more than ever before;

• The population these days is so transient, due to the fact that people change jobs and move house so frequently. That many of us have to move out of London to get on to the property ladder doesn’t help;

• In our late 20s and early 30s many of our friends settle down and start families. This means you can have a great social life one month but this can dwindle quite quickly over a relatively short period of time.

In London day-to-day life, it can be really difficult to get to know people. All too often, people embark on a blinkered path to and from work seldom taking the chance to talk to anybody while commuting or taking in much of what London has to offer.

At www.myexpandedcircle.com, we offer a quick and easy way to meet people. For those that already have active social lives we offer the chance to try something that your present group of friends aren’t into, which could be anything from wine tasting to white water rafting.

Stacey, a New Zealander in her 30s, is a member of the club.

"When I first came to London, I found it easy to find a good group of friends through work but times changed and London’s not the kind of place where it’s easy to go out and meet people. The longer you stay, the more social circles tend to shrink. People get married, have children and move out," she says.

It’s a fast track into London-based activities and social events I believe we have made the process as simple as possible. For example, via the site, people can email other members before meeting up, so as to get to know each other. Members can also view each other’s profile, which gives brief information about them and they can do searches for members with specific interests or who live in their locality.

We organise lots of events, many of them are free, like historic walks around London, forest walks, pub crawls and museum visits.

Paid events include theatre nights, meals out, paintballing and weekend breaks. As there’s a one month’s free trial, I’d encourage people to try it out.

Come along and if you like what they see then tell your mates, there is nothing like word of mouth to promote something that works.

We offer a safe, credible way to meet people and for many an opportunity to try some stuff that their mates aren’t into.

There’s a lot of research showing that a bit of exercise and a healthy social life make for a healthier and happier life.

As you get both with MEC as well as a free one month trial, you really have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

Once you’ve had your trial it costs £4.50 a month or £35 for the year, making it a good value social club.

• For more information check out www.myexpandedcircle.com.

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