Smilet Danmark

On 7 December 2016, Patrick Cakirli wrote a message on an app called Jodel.

It's a European equivalent to Yik Yak, an anonymous message forum which is based on location. In short, you post anonymous messages and anyone within 10km can reply.

He wrote:

I am desperate to meet new friends. I’m lonely and going through the hardest period of my life.

I’ll sit on the stairs in front of the town hall from 2pm to 8pm.

I have black pants and a North Face bag on.

Patrick says he'd written the post as a person who had spent half of his young life in an orphanage and had been left with low self-esteem. He had encountered violence in recent months, and in September of that year his girlfriend cheated on him and left him.

He felt depressed and sought help at a local psychiatric hospital. In short, he felt he didn't have many friends.

13 people replied to his message immediately.

Patrick is the one in the bottom right:

Throughout the course of the evening each person told him they too had experienced loneliness, that they had been afraid of reaching out, and were inspired by his message.

The meeting received press attention locally in Denmark, and Patrick started speaking out on the issue of mental health.

He set up a free national peer-to-peer network where lonely people could meet new people.

Patrick wrote:

I had no idea at the time, that this very short message would change my life as well as 10,000 others.

He also began a ten day walk from Copenhagen to Aarhus to raise awareness about loneliness.

The concept was that he couldn't walk unless accompanied by another person.

More than 70 people supported him by joining the effort or offering accommodation and food.

Smilet Danmark (Smile Denmark) has grown in the time since, helping hundreds to thousands of people meet each other.

Statistics show that over 210,000 Danes have experienced loneliness frequently.

Smilet has Facebook pages local to Hovedstaden, Sjælland, Fyn,Nordjylland, Midtjylland, and Sønderjylland

HT BoredPanda

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