Meet new people at online friendship club

A FRIENDSHIP club in West Byfleet has turned to the internet to keep their regular meetings going.

Jacqui Joyce started the Philotes Friendship Club in February 2018 in response to widespread concerns about loneliness.

Jacqui has three children and said that when they were young she would have liked to have had  somewhere to go that didn’t involve simply other mums and toddlers, or that centred around a particular activity.

She set up the club, named after the Greek goddess of friendship, and used the butterfly of the same name as the logo.

The club has no age or any other criteria and there is no joining or membership fee.

The monthly meetings began in West Byfleet library and later moved to Costa in the village on a Wednesday afternoon and a Friday morning, with a third one at the Station Pub on Thursday evenings.

Philotes Friendship Club founder Jacqui Joyce

Gatherings ranged from four to eight people with a total floating membership of around 40 people.

The ages range from 30s to 80s, with most members in their 50s.

“It’s deliberately a mix of generations and people just like to talk to each other,” Jacqui said.

Now that all the venues have closed and gatherings are not allowed, the club meets remotely every Friday morning using the Zoom app.

“It is great to keep it going and keep the connections,” Jacqui said.

She said she hoped that other people, in the Woking area and beyond, would start similar friendship clubs under the Philotes name.

“By using the name, it will be on the same basis and people will know what they are getting. I have thoroughly enjoyed organising it and have met lots of great new people.”

Jacqui said that the club gathers information about other local groups and interests that might interest the members.

“The current crisis has made a lot of people think about the need for community and helping each other.

“It would be fantastic if that continued and if there were more Philotes clubs, then people who are alone or simply want to meet new people, would know there was somewhere they could go.”

For more information, visit https://philotesfriendshipclub.co.uk, call 07498 922296 or email contact@philotesfriendshipclub.co.uk.

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