From three to over 35. ONE FRIEND , a group aimed at tackling loneliness, was started in Enniskillen at the turn of the year by three people and now there are over 35 members of the flourishing group.

The group ties in well with Positive Ageing month, which is being promoted across the county at present, but ONE FRIEND is a group without age limits and part of their mantra is that loneliness is something that can strike at any time of life.

Two of the founding members, Pauline McManus and Stephen Cairns, have been delighted with the way the group has grown over the intervening months, but they say that there is much more that needs to be done.

“It is amazing how many people are on their own,” Mr Cairns stated, before adding:

“It can be very difficult, especially if you are not an outgoing person and it can be very hard to admit that you are feeling lonely.”

For Mrs McManus it was a case that there was simply very little to do for so many people:

“The question a lot of our members asked before coming to us was, Where am I to go? But now our members tell us that family are saying to them, you used to never be out of the house and now you are never in it.”

In Positive Ageing month ONE FRIEND is a good news story but both Mrs McManus and Mr Cairns were keen to challenge the notion that loneliness is something that only effects the older in society:

“I think people think it is only older people who get lonely. That’s not true, we have a young fella who is in our group and he is 32. It is important to realise that young people get lonely too,” Mr Cairns stated.

Since its founding in February members have met weekly for walks and coffee, have visited Belfast on bus tours, met for lunch and the cinema. Some members have gone on holiday together while a Murder Mystery weekend in Bray is also scheduled in for the future while eight members of the group meet regularly for jive lessons. Coming in to winter loneliness can cut all the more sharply, but in ONE FRIEND people have an outlet. They have a group to meet where people will not only be welcoming but where they will also understand how isolating loneliness can be.

The group was started to combat a sense of social isolation and for its members it is more than doing that and Mrs McManus and Mr Cairns are keen to see the group grow.

Anyone interested can get in contact via email on or by telephone to Pauline McManus on 07972375795 or Stephen Cairns on 07815296448.