'I posted a Facebook appeal for new friends – we've formed an amazing bond'

‘Bit of an odd post, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get,’ wrote Mia Simpson-Smith, on Facebook.

‘I’d love to make some friends,’ she continued. ‘And making new friends once out of education is proving difficult.’

It’s not easy to admit that your social circle is small, which is partly why 20-year-old Mia posted her appeal anonymously, to a local Facebook group for people living in Stafford.

‘I just thought, if people laugh at me, they won’t know who I am,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

But within hours of her post, Mia was inundated with responses – and her appeal has been a roaring success. A group of around 10 girls now meet regularly, for coffees, cocktails and days out.

‘I’m so happy with how it’s all worked out,’ Mia says. ‘We all reached out and made the effort – I’m proud of all of us for putting ourselves out there.’

Making friends as an adult can be difficult. Once you’ve left education, unless you click with your colleagues, the opportunities to form close bonds with people becomes limited.

And the UK is often described as being in the grip of a ‘loneliness epidemic’ – which was only heightened by the pandemic. It’s such a concern, that the government now produces an annual report on tackling loneliness.

Almost a quarter of adults report feeling lonely always, often or some of the time, and young people are particularly affected, with almost 40% of people aged 16-29 saying that felt lonely always, often or some of the time.

Mia, originally from Coventry, moved to Stafford at the end of March, with her partner, Ben.

She says: ‘Most of my friends live in Coventry or London, so I didn’t really have a group nearby that I could meet up with.

‘Also, in the past couple of years I’ve started develop a bit of anxiety about staying over at other people’s houses. I don’t know where it came from – I’m quite an outgoing person – but it became even more difficult to spend time with friends who live far away.

‘My partner is great, and he’s my best friend, but I missed going out with girls.’

Then, one night, in April, Mia found herself home alone. She says: ‘Ben had gone out with his friends and I was sat in the living room, drinking wine and getting drunk by myself.

‘And I just thought: “Why am I doing this alone?”

‘So with a bit of Dutch courage, I decided to post on Facebook. There’s a bit of a stigma attached around not having lots of friends, and I was a bit embarrassed so I posted anonymously.’

Taking to Facebook, Mia wrote: ‘I like going on walks with my dogs, going out for food/drinks, travelling, gaming, going to concerts, overall just having a laugh!

‘Everyone tells me I’m an old soul, so I really I don’t care what age you are, as long as we have a few similar interests or we can make each other laugh.’

Within hours Mia had up to 30 comments, by the next morning, it was 70.

‘I couldn’t believe it,’ she says. ‘It was a relief to know I wasn’t the only person feeling in need of some new friends.’

Maria Sampson was one of the many people that responded to Mia’s appeal.

Despite living in Stafford her entire life, she’s struggled to make friends as an adult.

Maria, 25, says: ‘I grew up in Stafford. I’ve got a couple of friends from school, but I work nine to five during the week, while my best friend works at the weekends, so it can be hard to find time to meet up.

‘And other people I know of from school are already in established friendship groups.

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