Our social clubs bring together people of different ages, backgrounds, views and interests: at every event, you’re bound to connect with someone you’d normally not get the chance to hang out with.
But meeting new people can be intimidating: it’s totally natural to have a few nerves before you come along to your first East London Cares’ social club. We all get them! Below are a few tips to help banish your worries and help you have a brilliant time when you first meet your older neighbours.
As cheesy as it may be, Lily Allen and Charlie Chaplin were onto something when they told us to smile. Smiling will instantly make you look more approachable, and help in starting your first conversations. Some scientists even find a simple smile can reduce blood pressure and stress, helping you shake off those nerves so you can get stuck in. Likewise, talking slowly and perhaps a little louder than you ordinarily would can be helpful when chatting to some of the older neighbours, particularly in loud and busy rooms.
Remember, for some older neighbours it could be their first conversation with a younger person (or anyone) for a while, so they may require a little coaxing: that’s where your energy, confidence, and that smile, will make all the difference.
As well as being excellent to make puns with, tea is also a great and easy conversation starter when you first come to a Social Club. When you arrive, ask everyone around you if they’d like a brew.
It is an easy way to meet lots of your neighbours, and some of the best conversations happen over a cuppa and talking about the activity at that day’s club. It is also a great way to be a helping hand to the Social Club Coordinator, who is often busy setting up, taking the register and welcoming people.
Experience is never necessary – so just come with positivity
Our Social Club programmes are always packed with different activities for people to try – from dancing and karate, to baking and creative writing. But don’t be put off if you’re not a Paul Hollywood, a Jackie Chan, Darcey Bussell or JK Rowling – our clubs are for younger and older neighbours to have a laugh and get to know each other while having a go at something together. So don’t worry, and just come being ready to have a go – often the clubs with the most laughs are the ones where it’s totally different from what you would otherwise be doing day to day. The worse you are at something, the better the icebreaker it is!
Speaking of icebreakers, it’s always good to have a few questions up your sleeve. You could ask your older neighbours:
And of course, don’t forget to tell your older neighbours things about you too: they’ll love hearing about your interests, your job, what you’d do if you won the lottery, or who you’d hate to be stuck in a lift with!
We hope our tips have made you feel confident to come to our clubs. For more information, including what to expect at social clubs, check out our volunteer handbook.
Posted by Sasha Khan on Tuesday 26th November 2019
Sasha is the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at East London Cares, reaching older and younger neighbours and connecting them to our Social Clubs, Love Your Neighbour programme and Winter Wellbeing project. Previously Sasha has worked at Age UK and Coram, and volunteered at our sibling charity North London Cares.