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'Making friends is hard': Calgirls Club building community to help lonely women


Julia Craig moved to Calgary in September 2023 from Toronto and didn't know anyone, so she started the Calgirls Club to help other women who struggle to find close friendships.

"Calgirls is a community for women who want to make more girlfriends in the city," she said.

"They can do this through fun and unique events that not only benefit them but also benefit small businesses around the city."

Craig says she's been lonely for at least 10 years.

Even with family close and a boyfriend, she found she didn't have any girlfriends to confide in.

She says the pandemic didn't help matters and when she started reaching out on social media to other women about their state of loneliness, she was getting hundreds of replies.

"Right now, people are the loneliest and the most unhappy," she said.

"So I really, really want to find a source of light for people."

The Calgirls Club will host events for women 19 years old and up to socialize in a safe environment.

In a Meta-Gallup world survey released in October 2023, data collected from 142 countries show 24 per cent of those asked are very lonely while 27 per cent say they're a little lonely.

"I saw that study and it made me kind of emotional thinking about it," Craig said.

"I know there's so many girls out there, they just want someone to talk to, they just want a friend and that's kind of the moral of why I want to do this. I just really, really want to create those long-lasting bonds."

Emilie Fortin, owner of The Lodge Kitchen and Bar in Kensington, is a new member of the club.

She's from the Yukon and has lived in Calgary for 10 years and says many of the people around her are not close friends.

"I've talked to so many women. This is not the first time we've talked about this. People are lonely and people are hungry for friends, they're hungry for community," she said.

"It's like, let's support each other in business and stuff but really it's like, can we gossip about the cute boy I'm talking to and we all need a venue for that."

Nicole Leckie is Craig's roommate and like Craig, moved here on her own and is struggling to make friends.

"It's very lonely, I've lived by myself for a very long time and to be by yourself, not have friends in a new city, it's the most intimidating thing in the world," she said.

Leckie says the last thing many women want to do is go to a bar to meet people.

"I'm in my 30s now. That's really difficult to be able to meet new friends," she said.

"I don't play sports like I used to, I'm not in school like I used to be, the people I work with are a little bit older than me, so to be able to meet girlfriends my age is pretty difficult."

The Calgirls Club is hosting its first event Feb. 24 at The Lodge at 1918 and Craig is hoping to sign up more than 100 women.

"I have team bonding activities," she said.

"We're doing a temporary tattoo station, friendship bracelet station, we're going to do dance competitions and we're going to do best-dressed awards and really just events that everyone can get themselves involved in."

Leckie says she has an outgoing personality and is looking forward to starting conversations.

"I think the best part about this event is everyone is coming by themselves," she said.

"Everybody is out to make new friends, everyone is a little nervous, is a little awkward, is a little intimidated, so I think everyone is on the same playing field when they walk through the door."

Craig says she doesn't just want Calgirls to be about events, but about making lasting connections where members can get the support they need.

"I'm building an app as well, so that there can be direct messaging, there's going to be admins who can chat with them," she said.

"I also really want to get people who specialize in mental health (to present at events)."

You can learn more about the Calgirls Club and its events at Top Stories

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