How often do you speak to strangers?
When you look around you on the bus, train or tube what are most commuters engaging in?
It isn’t often stimulating conversation, is it?
Nine million people in London are lonely. It’s not something that people are too willing to admit. Perhaps because it conjures up images of sad ‘no mates’ types alone in their bedrooms. But this is far from the case. As the world becomes more connected findings show that actual, physical human contact and meaningful face to face conversation is diminishing. People are even more isolated. Loneliness has become so much of an epidemic that the UK government launched an initiative to tackle loneliness, which is only a hop, skip and a jump away from Depression (by the way), last October. We have a UK Minister for Loneliness who has been tasked with linking health services with good practice to bring people together across the UK.
I was lucky enough to become involved in an initiative called the Loneliness lab sprint in November 2018, a collaboration between Collectively and Lendlease. Watch the video to find out more.
On Friday 11th January we set out to surprise commuters in our takeover of London Overground. We met at Highbury and Islington station in North London armed with an arsenal of felt pens, colouring books, playdoh, some wool and my trusty knitting needles that are actually chopsticks (because who can find knitting needles in a rush?)After a hearty breakfast (well my daughter, Maheni, and I had a hearty breakfast in friendly Amici Coffee Deli opposite the station) we descended onto the platform. The pictures below give a flavour of what went daahhnn (faux London accent optional)
We had a wonderful day talking to commuters, giving out crafts and encouraging strangers to get involved. We had fun spreading our message. What we discovered was really something we knew all along… that people simply want to be heard and to be seen. Despite our growing habit of using our mobile phones as a prop or headphones to shut the world out, we still want to be visible. By disrupting public transport and taking craft where it isn’t usually seen we were able to reach out to others who may have needed this. Bar one commuter (less said the better) everyone was positive and smiley and enjoyed the unexpected change to their journey.
It’s a tall order, ending loneliness in London. But Craftmoves are committed to giving it a rousing go. Our next ‘takeover’ is planned for Thursday 14th February (yes, THAT day) bringing crafty L.O.V.E to commuters at Liverpool street station on their travels. So if you’re around or you want to join us and bring some encouragement, follow our journey on the platforms below!
Read The Loneliness Lab Playbook on Issuu below.
Are you, or have you ever felt lonely? If you have any advice for anyone experiencing loneliness do comment below.
Oh, one last thing! I wrote an article about craft, loneliness and aging for the latest issue of Goldie Magazine, a new and fabulous glossy print that celebrates the over 40s. You can get your copy HERE.