Introducing Elephant says Hi
When’s the last time you said ‘hello’ to someone new? Or someone you don’t know said ‘hi’ to you? If the answer is a number of days, weeks or even months ago, then it’s time to get chatty – and a new community initiative launched in Elephant & Castle is making it easy to forge new connections.
Elephant & Castle has gone through massive transition in recent years and, as a result, has many new people calling it home. Elephant Says Hi is helping new and existing members of the vibrant Elephant & Castle community to connect with each other and explore the many welcoming places in the area.
“Our mission is to make Elephant & Castle the most welcoming place in London,” says Jenny Sawyer, co-founder of Elephant Says Hi. “There are nine million people lonely in the UK and we wanted to do something about it.”
Based in Elephant Park, Sawyer is part of the team behind the Loneliness Lab, a project designed to make London a less lonely city in which to live. It was during research for the Lab that Jenny and Liza Makarov (co-founder of Elephant Says Hi) met a new Elephant & Castle resident who was struggling to make friends. “We were in Hej Coffee and I said ‘hello’ to this Mexican guy, and a big smile just appeared on his face. It turned out that he had been living in Elephant & Castle for eight months and didn’t really know anyone and no-one had said hello to him. “And we started thinking, why don’t we just say ‘hello’? Why is it acceptable that people can spend the entire day without having anyone engage with them?”
The idea for Elephant Says Hi was born and, 12 months later, the campaign is up and running, with an easy-to-use website signposting people to welcoming spaces and places across Elephant & Castle.
“The idea of the website is that people who are coming to the area will know where they can go to be made to feel welcome,” explains Sawyer. “We have 21 businesses signed up so far, including shops, cafes, dry cleaners, and faith and community groups – just anywhere that people can connect with others or the spaces.
Any Elephant & Castle-based group, business or organisation is welcome to join the Elephant Says Hi community; the only requirement is that all members agree to the welcome charter, an agreement that they will be welcoming and inclusive to their visitors and active in signposting people to other things going on in the area. Members are also asked to display the Elephant Says Hi sticker where possible, so visitors know they are part of the initiative and will receive a warm welcome.
Elephant Says Hi is helping new and existing members of the vibrant Elephant & Castle community to connect with each other and explore the many welcoming places in the area. So, whether you’ve lived in Elephant & Castle all your life or have just laid down roots – and if you tend to keep yourself to yourself – why not check out the growing network of Elephant Says Hi members? You never know, it might just be the start of something special.
For more information about Elephant Says Hi, visit www.elephantsays-hi.com