The Gift of Friendship

(3 minute read)

This year has been an extraordinary one. Not in the way that you might describe a solar eclipse, or the birth of a child. But in the way you might describe living during a global pandemic, watching the world change forever.

We may have found ourselves uttering new phrases like ‘corona-coaster’, ‘zoom-fatigue’, ‘blursday’ or the less friendly ‘covidiot’. But we may not have expected to say how much we deeply miss seeing our friends, who may only live a few streets away.

Our friends are a powerful force in our lives. They are great for our health and emotional wellbeing, and come in all shapes and sizes, from acquaintances on social media to friends who feel like family.

Robin Dunbar at Oxford University has found that people can generally maintain around 150 social connections of varying degrees of closeness: five very close friends, 10 close friends, 35 friends, and 100 acquaintances.

We’ve found a few pretty good reasons why these close friendships are so great…

In Kate Leaver’s book ‘The Friendship Cure‘ she explains that friends provide physical, moral, social, and emotional support when we need it. Friends act like a circle of altruism, helping protect us from suffering or from being harmed by others, according to The Greater Good Science Center.

Friends can play a starring role in some of our favourite memories. They bring joy, laughter, and a contagious happiness into our lives. As a friend you get to share your passions and experiences with someone who really cares about you. Whether you’re belly laughing with a group of your favourite people, or sitting quietly enjoying each other’s company, friends are a gift.

Image credit: Charlie Mackesy

Good friends can help you not to feel lonely and keep you healthy! Leaver explains that loneliness can put us at a greater risk of clinical dementia, heart attack, stroke, and even death! Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

Good friends can help keep stress at bay, even for children! When was the last time you felt worried, stressed or upset about something? Hopefully you were able to speak with a friend and talk through your emotions. A good friend listens and can help you work out a way forward when it’s not clear. Friends can nip stress in the bud before it overwhelms you.

Right now you may be prevented from physically hanging out. But just knowing that you share a strong connection with someone can help you feel less alone.

So what about a Christmas resolution? Who could you reach out to in this season? Someone you used to be close to before other commitments or distance became greater?

Friendship is such a gift, and as a friend, you can be a gift to others. For some wonderful friends this Christmas I’ve baked shortbread and written cards to say just how thankful I am that they’re in my life. The crumbs that eventually arrived in the post hopefully made what could be a challenging Christmas ahead just that little bit sweeter.

Could you think of 5 people to reach out to? Support a local business by buying cards and thank them for being there for you this year. Be a gift to someone else and help them feel less alone, supported and loved in this season.

Become a Friend of Citywise

Helping children to connect with each other and build new friendships is crucial for their mental, emotional and physical health. Before a Citywise mentoring programme comes to an end children will identify, with the help of a mentor, the consistent, kind people in their life that they can continue to receive support from, and be a friend to them too.

We’re big on friendship at Citywise, and have our own community of around 50 Friends who each give each month to help our programmes thrive. They’re committed for the long-term, like a good friend, to be a part of transforming young lives! We would love if you considered becoming a Friend too! Find out more here!