Free Hugs with People likely to feel Isolated


send Andy a message to start one where you live

As a Hug is such a fantastically direct way to help people feel connected to their community, it can be used as a powerful tool to foster a feeling of connection in those feeling isolated, and to remind the wider community that there are other humans living around them who are likely to often feel excluded and on the outside.

Here’s a beautiful video I saw which demonstrates how easy it is to feel isolated and not able to join in this kind of community activity:


You can bring the hugs directly into the lives of people likely to be feeling isolated, or indirectly; for example, you could contact a hospital and ask if it ok for a group to walk around asking the long term sick, terminally ill, and other bed ridden patients would like a hug. I imagine someone coming to terms with leaving this world is likely to appreciate a reminder of what a beautiful, happy place they lived in (and of course stop for a chat if they’d like).

Indirectly is also a fantastic way, and one which takes much less effort to set up. Finding people in your town who are likely to be isolated is easy, just think who might be in need of a warm gesture of support and then think of where they might be. Its important to realise that some people may feel uncomfortable, or annoyed if they feel as though they are being targeted and treated as though they are a charity case. Support groups are a great example as many people there are likely to value their anonymity, for example, alcoholic anonymous or depression support groups. Avoiding this is fairly easy, simply find out what time and where a group is meeting, and then take a few friends with Take a Smile signs to stand at the nearest public transport station at the same time the group finishes; so that those attending can remain anonymous, but we know that we will reach some of the people attending with our kindness and support as they travel home.

Alternatively you could;

  • Meet and stand with your Free Hug signs outside a place where you know people likely to be isolated are likely to pass; like homeless shelter, an impoverished area of your city, or an Asylum and immigration centre.

  • Invite people likely to be isolated to join you. Often groups working with vulnnerable people are reluctant to join anything that isnt risk assessed, planned, and supervised by trained staff, but the  progressive groups who will make the effort to make it happen but imagine how beautifully powerful it would be to take a group of people from a homeless shelter, or those with learning difficulties and mental handicaps, on the tube/metro, or to a public place to offer everyone they meet Free Hugs!


I find a small group gets a better reaction in these projects, as a big group can appear daunting.


Here’s a list of other groups likely to be isolated who you could try visit and offer a Hug, or invite to join you on a hugging mission:


Troubled Youth

  • People who are Homeless

  • Asylum Seekers

  • People with Special Needs

  • Prisons and groups helping those at risk of re-offending

  • Long term unemployed

  • Those with mental health issues

  • The long term sick, incapacitated, and those with terminal illnesses

  • The elderly

  • Rich people, our Hug a banker event outside the London Stock Exchange was excellent! (yes its true, wealth can have a very isolating effect!)