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Planning Retirement Online

Joining In

One way in which we can meet people and start to form friendships is by doing activities that bring us into contact with people. It sounds obvious but, nevertheless, it requires some thought. Very often there is more than one way of doing an activity and, if we choose the way that brings us into contact with people, then we've made a start to forming friendships.

We will only meet new people and start to form friendships if we go out and join in. There is the option of joining a social network site on the internet through which we can make friends but, nevertheless, if we want real rather than virtual friends, we have to go and meet people.

Almost anything we do we can do with other people and thereby start to form friendships through them. Probably the best example is reading. There is no more solitary activity than reading: we put a book up to our face and exclude the outside world. However, if we join a book club or reading group that meets, say, once a month we can turn even reading into an activity through which we can meet people. You might be able to find a group near you by going to your local library.

We should think about the activities that we would like to do in retirement and then consider the way in which we want to do them. We don't necessarily want to do everything with the idea of making new friends; after all, one of the nice things about retirement is that we can have some time to ourselves during the day, if we wish to, rather than being at the beck and call of work colleagues or customers all day. However, if we do want to form friendships through our activities, we need to put some thought into them.

Keeping Physically Fit

We may want to do some sort of physical activity in retirement, in order to keep us fit so that we can enjoy our retirement to the full. Walking is a good way of doing this and it's easy to put on our footwear, head out the door and go for a walk - that's the nice thing about walking (or even running if we feel up to it!). However, walking with a group is an excellent way of meeting people and really get to know them. If we walk with someone for an hour or so the conversation can get quite wide-ranging! So think about joining a walking group; there will be a Walking for Health Group in your area, so go to to find your local group. All walks in the scheme are free! Or you could join the Ramblers and enjoy group walks, as well as holidays and other activities with them.

Sports clubs are usually very sociable places, so if you want to play golf or any other sport, join your local club. There are many websites that list local clubs for specific activities around the UK and they are usually very easy to find on the internet. For example,, lists over 7000 clubs, with their contact details.

The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore

If you want to swim, play table tennis, go to the gym, have a go at badminton, take an exercise class such as pilates, yoga, aerobics or

aquafit then your local sports centre is a good place to go. Many of the larger ones have an Over 50s club that allows you to do these activities at the appropriate level and also has an active social element as well. So you can get a bit of exercise, meet new people and start to form friendships all at the same time! For more information on keeping physically fit, have a look at our Guide to Staying Fit and Healthy.

Keeping Mentally Fit

Many people like to learn something new in retirement, for enjoyment and because it keeps the brain active. These days, access to learning is easy because of the internet. The net itself is a good place to increase our knowledge and there are any number of distance learning activities that we can do through it. However, those things don't help us to form friendships, so to do that we need a different strategy.

There are many organisations that offer classes in all sorts of topics - both academic and non-academic. Your local College of Further Education or Adult Education classes are perhaps the most obvious source so investigate these. Going to a class is an excellent way of forming friendships - everyone is in the same boat and therefore tends to join together and bond.

Go to and participate in, or even initiate, debates about some of the issues that affect us all. You can do it on line or in face-to-face ‘Pie and Pint’ groups and the outcome of these debates may then be passed on to decision-makers in order to assist them. By forming a ‘Pie and Pint’ group at your local pub, you might meet other new friends at the pub.

You will probably have a branch of the Workers' Education Association near you and, again, they will run classes on all sorts of topics. Have a look at their website to find a course near you. Similarly, there will be a local branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A), which will run all sorts of academic, non-academic and purely social activities in your area. Click on the link to find out all about them. Both these organisations will provide you with the opportunity to learn something and form friendships at the same time.

For more help on staying fit and healthy, have a look at the Staying Mentally Fit page of our Guide to Staying Fit and Healthy. Also, go to the Guide to Adult Education.


Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes, of course. We do them because we enjoy them, although they may provide us with other benefits as well, such as keeping us fit physically and/or mentally. One of these benefits is that they may help us to meet other people and form friendships.

Forming Friendships Links

Guide to Forming Friendships

Taking Holidays and Breaks


Social Networking

Whatever hobby or hobbies we choose to do, there will almost certainly be an organisation that oversees it. Joining this organisation will allow us to form friendships if we wish to because we can attend meetings, days out, weekend events and so on that the organisation puts on. So, for example, if you're a stamp collector, join the local branch of the Association of British Philatelic Societies. If you are interested in genealogy, join the Federation of Family History Societies and see what events they're organising or take a look at Genealogy UK and Ireland (GENUKI) and see what events they have under their GENEVA (GENealogical Events and Activities) programme.

Go to the Hobbies and Interests page of the website and also to our Guide to Hobbies and Interests for some more ideas and inspiration.

You see the picture! If we want to form friendships, hobbies can be a way of meeting like-minded people and getting to know them.

Whatever we do, there is usually a way of doing it that will enable us to form friendships. However, even once we've taken the initial steps we will sometimes need to be proactive and take the initiative in starting conversations and getting to know people. Don't be shy - usually the people who aren't taking the initiative are themselves shy and are just waiting and hoping that someone else will take the lead!

So now have a look through the rest of the Guide, by clicking on the links in the box, for other ideas on forming friendships in later life.


If you have any good ideas and tips for helping people in this important area of later life, please let us know at and we'll include it in the Guide.

This Guide is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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