Helen King, the founder of togetherfriends – a female friendship website for women in the UK, explains why and how she set up the website and what it offers women in midlife and beyond.
My name is Helen King and I run a female friendship website for women called togetherfriends. We offer friendship to women in the UK and have over 7000 members, spread throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
When I was 52, as a midlife menopausal woman, I set up togetherfriends. It was a bit of a eureka moment – I was between jobs, not knowing where my work life was heading. I was a soon to be empty nester with the kids starting to leave home. I was a ‘sandwiched’ carer – caring for a family as well as an elderly mother, and I was menopausal. So, all in all, it was quite a challenging time for me.
The idea of a friendship site came to me when I wanted to go for a walk but had no one to go with. I had friends but they were all busy doing other things. I realised that women need friends for different activities – they are looking for the walking friend, the coffee friend, the cinema friend or the running friend. Women like – and need – to have friends. A good friend offers support, empathy and laughter. And I realised that everyone has times in their lives when they feel lonely, vulnerable and in need of a special friend.
So I took the plunge and set up togetherfriends online to allow women to connect one to one with each other and arrange to meet as they pleased, at times to suit them. The site works by connecting members based on where they live, age and interests. It is a confidential, easy to use service where members connect via our secure messaging system. It is free to register and view matches, but there is a small admin fee to connect with matches.
On a personal note, setting up my own business allowed me to work from home, working under my own terms. It gave me confidence. It was a steep learning curve for me – I had never written a blog or a newsletter or even been on social media – so running the site was quite a challenge. I was able to develop new skills and grow into the job and, to be honest, feel very proud of what I have achieved.
Women join us for all sorts of reasons. They may have moved to a new area or their kids have left home. They have just retired or separated from a partner, or because they just want to find a dog walking buddy. Whatever the reason, the one thing our members have in common is that everyone is looking for friends, rather than trying to break into a ready made group. And they are able to arrange their own meet ups at times to suit them, rather than having to be available at set times. Our members meet for coffee, meals out, shopping trips, walks, cinema trips, whatever they wish.
We look forward at togetherfriends to welcoming many more women to the site for friendship. We have many members who are in the midlife stage of their life – they are becoming empty nesters, in early retirement, caring for someone at home or moving to a new area. They are single or recently separated, work from home or bereaved. Whatever the reason, we welcome you all!
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