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  • Writer's pictureBridie Daniels

The Story Behind 15-Minute Friendships

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Hi there and welcome to 15-Minute Friendships. My name is Bridie (they/them), and I started this project as a way to combat loneliness in the LGBTQ+ community. I moved to Leeds around the start of 2020 and was immediately isolated due to the spread of COVID-19. I was very fortunate to have moved in with my partner who had an existing friendship group up here, but I also wanted to do my very best to go out and make friends of my own, and this is something I found challenging both during lockdown and beyond!

I tried apps like Bumble, which have "friends only" settings, but found I quickly ran out of people to talk to. Those I matched with would occasionally engage in conversation, but things often fizzled out before they really began. I'd find people would often respond to messages weeks later with a "sorry, I didn't open the app for a while because I got busy at work" or something similar. I don't begrudge this, as I've definitely been guilty of starting a conversation on an app then disappearing too! It did, however, highlight some of the pitfalls of app-based socialising, which seemed very high-effort, low-reward.

When the world opened back up, I did my best to get out and attend as many events and activities that aligned with my interests as possible, and this definitely helped me feel less lonely, but it was expensive and very time consuming. Then, in 2022, I was advised by my GP to avoid alcohol due to a medical condition, and I quickly found that a lot of the events I'd been attending were suddenly closed off to me. It wasn't that I couldn't go to a club night or hang out in a bar and enjoy myself without drinking (I often do!), but I found it a lot harder to socialise with people once the drinks started flowing and I was the only sober person left.

I also went through periods of depression and social anxiety, which heightened some of the sensory issues I experience and made attending group events or activities difficult. The idea of hanging out with a group of people I barely knew and trying to foster friendships seemed daunting at best and damn-near impossible at worst. I felt discouraged that I was coming up against so many pitfalls and started thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me, which caused me to withdraw further.

I spent a lot of my time feeling like I lacked the conversational skills to meet new people or that I must be incredibly awkward or off-putting because I couldn't make any friends of my own. I felt lonely, but the idea of trying to do anything about it suddenly seemed terrifying. I had to take things really slowly and push myself out of my comfort zone when my anxiety would allow it. There was no big event or moment that fixed my loneliness or helped everything snap into place, but just going out into the world and talking to people as and when I could eventually helped me regain my confidence and feel comfortable socialising again.

I'm not here to preach some kind of method or quick-fix to loneliness because loneliness is different for everyone. What I am here to do is offer something that I really wish had been available when I was feeling alone or needed someone to talk to. 15-Minute Friendships is about giving individuals a low-pressure, one-to-one space to chat, tell their stories, practise their conversational skills, and/or just generally socialise. If the idea of committing to a regular activity seems scary to you, then dropping into a 15-Minute Friendships session might be just what you need.

This is a brand-new project for me, and there will be lots to learn along the way, but I've done my very best to create as safe a space as possible when getting started. You can find out more about what happens in a 15-Minute Friendships session on the About page, get more info from the F.A.Qs page, and find out what safeguarding policies we have in place here.

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