Clubs and groups
It is never too late to make new friends, grow your social circles and meet new people.
If you're interested in getting out there and getting physically or mentally active (or both!), then here are some options you can explore.
This is a good option if what you’re looking for is some inspiration on new reading material. It's especially nice when you make friends who look forward to discussing themes and ideas…maybe over a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine!
Book clubs are really easy to join as they’re so popular. There are usually a few groups, even in remote areas.
There are several websites available that will offer listings of all kinds of reading groups. Some can be quite specific in their focus, such as crime genres or classical literature, but you’ll probably find that most groups are general in their content, and often members take turns choosing titles for upcoming meetings.
Reading Groups for Everyone has a great online directory where you simply need to type in your postcode and a very extensive list of nearby groups will be offered to you.
You could also log on to a general online search engine (such as google.co.uk) and type in key words such as “book club north London” and see what comes up. Contact any club you plan to join ahead of time to make sure they are still active and meeting when and where their directory listing says. Also, to stay safe, only meet at a public place, not at someone’s house, unless you are sure you know and fully trust the people attending.
Alternatively, think about starting your own book club. If you have a few people in your local community who share your interest in literature, why not figure out a way to get together regularly to discuss a chosen book?
You could also contact your local library, synagogue or community centre to see if they’ll help you to recruit members. Just ask if you can put up flyers that advertise your group.
For more help on things to consider when starting your own book club take a look online. Penguin.com have a great article with a checklist of how to get a book club started.
If you’re feeling sporty, then a bowls club is a great option. It’s a very sociable activity, although you will need a certain level of physical fitness if you wish to take part. You may discover it’s a wonderful way to spend time outdoors, as most of the bowling greens across the UK are based in parkland.
You can find a good list of bowls clubs along with a map of locations via the bowls.org.uk website.
Another good directory is on the Find a Club portion of the Bowls England website. There you can simply type in your postcode, and you will get options for clubs nearby.
A game of memory, communication and strategy, bridge is also a great place to meet new people and make friends—and sometimes enemies! We've included a list of Jewish bridge clubs throughout the UK.
Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation runs its bridge club on Monday afternoons, and new players are always welcome.
Leeds Jewish Welfare Board holds bridge sessions regularly in the MAZCC community venue.
Bridge at Merseyside Jewish Community Centre, where you can also play Rummikub or Kalooki regularly.
Alyth Synagogue has a bridge club where you can play weekly or monthly.
Chicago Bridge Club holds monthly sessions at Edgware and District Reform Synagogue.
Finchley Progressive Synagogue has a bridge club that is open not only to members of the synagogue but also to visitors.
Finchley Reform Synagogue has a regular group of beginners and intermediate bridge players. For more information, call the synagogue office at 0208 446 3244.
Hatch End Jewish Community Centre bridge club meets regularly and welcomes new members to its intermediate group.
Hendon Reform Synagogue has a bridge club that meets every week.
LJS is based in St John's Wood, where you can play bridge with a very friendly group that meets each week at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue.
North West Surrey Synagogue, Weybridge has a bridge group that meets weekly.
Radlett Reform Synagogue invites all bridge enthusiasts, whether you are a beginner or an experienced social player.
Southgate Progressive Synagogue meets regularly (and you don’t need to come with a partner).
Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue bridge club meets every week for bridge and board games.
Whitefield Shaarei Shalom Synagogue invites you to join the Besses o’th Barn Bridge club for regular sessions.
Non-Jewish bridge clubs
Acol Bridge is London's most famous teaching club and provides a complete bridge education, including classes and supervised sessions for all levels—from beginners through to advanced players.
Andrew Robson Bridge Club invites all to join this group, whether you are a complete beginner or a skilled player.
A game of strategy and cunning, chess is very competitive, but it also keeps the mind active! Here is a list of chess clubs throughout the UK:
- Chess Corner is a website that offers a good general overview of chess clubs around the UK.
- Chess NI has details for clubs in Northern Ireland.
- Chess Scotland has an interactive map that will help you to find chess clubs in your area.
- The English Chess Federation has a detailed directory of chess clubs and groups around England.
- The Welsh Chess Union website has a list of clubs throughout Wales.
If you’re interested in joining a group to discuss current affairs (or other more general subjects), think about contacting your local council or community centre. You may find that there are local groups that you could join. Check our Directory of community and cultural centres to start your search.
Never thought you’d pick up those old knitting needles again? Well this sociable activity has once again become a very popular pastime!
Most knitting groups will require a certain level of ability (although some accept absolute beginners), but you can always embark on a short course first to get to know the basics.
Here are some directories that list groups around the UK:
- The Knitting & Crochet Guild: This site has a page dedicated to local groups and meetings around the UK.
- Knit Together: This is a website created solely as a directory for knitting and crochet groups. If you're looking to join a group, just use the drop-down box on the homepage to select your region, then a list of options will be displayed for your perusal.
- UK Handknitting: In addition to explaining why you should belong to a group, this website features information on joining workshops and self-help videos.
Finally, take a look at the Jewish Care Interact Crafts page which has links to websites that can help you in your search to find courses near you.
Always had a penchant for a live performance? Whether it’s going to see a play or getting on stage yourself, there’s a whole world of opportunity out there in theatreland!
Trips to the theatre are great to take with friends, because there are several websites where you can buy discounted tickets for groups. A couple of reputable ones to try might be:
Groupon is a website dedicated to offering discounts on all kinds of experiences, from big London West End productions, to circus shows and cabaret. You’ll find events all over the UK.
Ticketmaster is another well known website with discounted group tickets for a wide range of shows.
If you like the idea of going on some regular theatre outings with a local group, the best way to get involved is to contact your nearby synagogue, community centre or even your local library. If you can’t find anything through these avenues, you could always try asking whether anyone is able to set a group up, and perhaps you could help them to get it started.
Performing in amateur dramatics
If it’s being on the stage that really takes your fancy, then have a look into joining a local amateur dramatics group. If you live in a large city, it’s likely there will be a nice variety of groups that meet near where you live. However, in more remote areas you might have to do a little more research to find something. If you don't have any success, you could even consider starting your own!
Definitely take a look through local newspapers and ask at nearby community centres and libraries. These will often post flyers for amateur dramatic productions in your area.
Sometimes pubs hire out their upstairs spaces. You can often see flyers displayed on windows, so keep an eye out.
Once you have identified a group, simply contact them directly. Ask if they’re recruiting new members or if they’re happy for you to come along to a rehearsal. You can easily find contact details for them via an email address or phone number on a poster. Many even have their own websites.
There are also some nice websites with directories to local amateur dramatics clubs around the UK. For example, Drama Groups or the Amateur Theatre Directory both have pages with links to groups. But do make sure to contact any group you are interested in before dropping by (just to make sure they are definitely still active).
There are many activities out there if you are just looking for a place to meet people and try a variety of new things.
With over 20 clubs across the UK, the Jewish Association of Cultural Societies (JACs) meets once a week. Activities include guest speakers, entertainers and day clubs. JACs also organises days out, theatre groups, holidays and excursions at low prices for the community.
If JACs isn’t for you, contact your local synagogue or community centre to find out what social and wellbeing programmes are being offered.
In Glasgow, you can contact the following synagogues to find out about their social programmes:
Contact the following synagogues to access their social programmes:
Contact the following synagogues in Liverpool to access their social programmes:
- Allerton Hebrew Congregation
- Liverpool Reform Synagogue
- Lubavitch Foundation Liverpool
- Princes Road Synagogue
Contact the following synagogues to access their social programmes:
- Hale Shule
- Holy Law South Broughton
- Shrubberies Synagogue
- South Manchester Synagogue
- Stenecourt (Great New & Central) Synagogue
If you live in a more remote part of the UK but are keen to connect with the Jewish community local to you, head over to the Jewish Small Communities Network, a non-profit project designed to share information about smaller communities throughout the UK. You can also visit Jewish Care Interact's Directory of community and cultural centres for more social options throughout the country.
And if you would rather explore social opportunities outside of the Jewish community, it might be a good idea to connect with Age UK and check out Further education and training to find out about activities, services and information in community centres local to you and your community.
Apart from the ideas we’ve offered, there are many more things for you to explore. Activities such as art appreciation, dancing, cooking and different types of fine art are all possibilities, and there are many clubs and groups all over the UK where you can share your interests with others.
Take a look at Social activities on the Age UK website, which is a great online resource for finding a range of clubs and classes in your area.
Or you could try using online search engines (again, such as Google) and type in phrases like “photography club Manchester” to see what shows up. You could also check in your local newspaper or at your local synagogue or community centre to see whether they know of any groups in the local area.
As previously mentioned, always contact the club you plan to join before visiting to make sure it is still running. Online directories rely on administrators to keep an eye on this, and they don’t always check information is up-to-date on a regular basis.
If you can’t find a club near you, why not consider starting your own? Contact your local synagogue or community centre and see if they’ll help to provide you with a space to meet…and get busy!