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“There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”

That is the quote from Irish poet WB Yeats that appears on the Christmas advert that has taken the internet by storm.

No not the multi-million pound adverts created by John Lewis and all, but a touching low budget video created by Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

The message is a very simple and powerful one. A lonely bereaved man makes a poignant visit to a loved one’s grave. On leaving he is seemingly ignored in the street by passers by. He eventually ends up at the bar and, through the timely intervention of a friendly dog, is joined by the dog’s owners for a cherished chat.

It is a timely reminder of how many people in our modern society are lonely and isolated – and miss out on the simple, and very important, pleasures of company and friendship.

Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) has just declared loneliness to be a pressing global health threat, with the US surgeon general saying that its mortality effects are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The WHO is so concerned it has launched an international commission on the problem. It comes after the Covid-19 pandemic halted economic and social activity, increasing levels of loneliness and raising new awareness of the importance of the issue.

The sad truth is we are facing a loneliness crisis and it is having such a huge impact on communities up and down the UK and the world.

One of the main reasons we created The Walk and Talk Movement was to help local communities come together to combat loneliness and social isolation. To give people the chance to join a friendly and welcoming group of walkers and talkers every week. To get out of the house, have a chat and share a smile and a laugh. Always accessible and free to all – as a bit of kindness doesn’t cost anything.

As Yeats also wrote

“The world is full of magic things”

….and a friendly chat and a kind word can can work wonders.

Walk and talks are run by the community for the community. Come along any Saturday at 10.30am at the locations below and turn strangers into new friends: