According to recent findings, a fifth of Londoners say they do not have one good friend and more than two thirds answered that they regularly feel lonely, with work-life balance blamed. One start-up that specialises in fun classes and experiences is asking the public to commit to ‘pulling a sickie’ on Friday 10th June and in doing so, make some friends throughout a day of weird and wonderful experiences at a secret location.

Bosses across the capital might be an employee or two shy on Friday the 10th June, as Lonely Londoners skive work to attend the ‘Pull a Sickie, Make More Friends’ day specifically being put on to highlight the lack of work-life balance, blamed in a survey for contributing to people feeling friendless and isolated, situations linked to an increased risk of strokes and coronary artery disease.

The study of 2,000 Londoners was commissioned by class and experience discovery site in a bid to better understand the social lives of the public, and found that a fifth of people, 19%, say that they don’t have one person they’d define as a friend, while a quarter of people, 26%, said they haven’t made a friend since secondary school. More than two thirds, 64%, of respondents said that they regularly feel lonely.

Those happy to commit to a day off work can sign up to the day of fun classes and experiences including stand-up comedy lessons, cooking classes, a laughter ‘play’ shop and more here, where they’ll also find suggested excuses to use on the day. Thirty people chosen at random will be emailed with the secret location, to avoid bosses from finding out, and will also be met by a confidence expert that specialises in helping people manage their work and social lives.

The consequences of loneliness have been widely reported in the press over the last year, with a recent study published by Heart (1), discovering that loneliness and social isolation are linked to a 30% increased risk of having a stroke or developing coronary artery disease, the two leading causes of death for men and women.

When asked what contributed to their loneliness, a busy work schedule was cited as the main cause, with 65% stating they didn’t have the time to socialise as a result of their job. 42% said they felt that living in London contributed to their isolation.

When broken down, the age demographic most affected by loneliness according to the results are those between the ages of 25-34, with more than half, 54%, of respondents in that age group saying they regularly experienced the feeling. 34-45 year olds were the second-most affected at 43%, while those between the ages of 18-24 were the least affected, with 15% saying they felt lonely.

Nelson Sivalingam, founder of Wonderush, said:

“The recent news on loneliness being a serious social and health issue is only reinforced by the results of the survey we commissioned. It’s easy to focus on work and your career, only to find no time to enjoy the company of others – which is why we wanted to do something as drastic as give people an opportunity to pull a sickie to make more friends!

“If people feel like they would like to meet new people and make new friends, then our initiative will provide a fun and easy way for them to do so. It’s easier to talk to others and make friends while engaged in activities, and by encouraging people to skive work, we want to make the wider point that we all need to balance work with ensuring we have a life, too. Nobody on their death bed says they wish they would have spent more time at work.”