How Immersive Volunteering Changed my Life

When I moved to London, I had high hopes of a life filled with my fulfilling career, friends and exciting adventures – mooching boutique stores, discovering up and coming music venues and sipping G&Ts after work with friends. The problem? I was picturing a fantasy and forgetting that it takes a long time to settle in somewhere new!

Lonely London

According to City Index survey, 55% of Londoners say they find the city a lonely place to live, ranking it one of the loneliest cities in the world. The statistics are even more worrying for people completely new to the city. With our busy work schedules and typically rushed commutes, only 7% of Londoners think it’s a good place to make new friends. You can also drop any illusion of being swept off your feet as only 4% of Londoners think it’s a good city to find love. It was good to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling lonely – but it didn’t help me so much in the short term.

Expectations Vs Reality

London’s professional career market is one of the most competitive in the world – something regularly glamorised on television and soaps, but a harder pill to swallow in reality. If you want to career climb in this city, long, isolated working hours are common, limiting your social time. I was frequently too anxious and burned out to be outgoing and try to make new friends and the more I’ve talked about it since then, the more I’ve heard that others feel the same.

How to Make New Friends

It took me a short while to work out the perfect friendship formula! Here are a few ways that I made friends in London that might work for you!

  • Try complimenting a stranger – it’s a great way to start a conversation.
  • Spend more time investing in your hobbies – especially finding venues where other people with similar interests will be.
  • Join local groups from book clubs to sport groups, depending on your interests
  • Try dating and friendship apps such as Tinder and Bumble to look for love or a mutual connection
  • Volunteer locally to make friends in your immediate area – plus it feels good!

Komorabi

I first heard about Komorabi from London Live, where Maria, the founder, was discussing her experience of a lonely and stressed London. I immediately related to her experience and was interested to hear in the company she built that aimed to combat these issues. Komorabi combines live actors with mobile tech so that you and your friends can run around the city in a giant immersive game. The best part of Komorabi is that it’s for a good cause. Maria works with some great charitable organisations and gets players to complete small acts of kindness or volunteering as part of the game. The most recent event, Snow Queen Adventure, had me running around the city collecting items for Mary’s Backpack Project, delivering school stationery to children all over the world.

I posted about the event on Reddit’s London thread and soon had a small team ready to play. Just through doing good and exploring something new, I now have a supportive group of local friends, and we’ve found lots of cool places to hang out through the game too!

From experience, I can safely say that the biggest turning point for my London life was branching out and trying something new. Stop hesitating and get out there to make a difference, not just to your life but someone else’s!

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