IT’S a simple idea with big aims – get people talking and create a friendlier society – and it’s proving to be a hit in one Yorkshire town.
The bright orange, eye-catching Talk to Me Today bands act as an ice-breaker and aim to help people connect to each other and be less lonely, and are part of one woman’s mission to get people talking.
Olwen Edwards’s wristbands have the backing of the former Bishop of Wakefield, and are already being sold in shops and cafes across Halifax.
She said: “We could all benefit from living in a friendlier society. However confident and happy you are, people yearn to reach out. These bands make that so much easier.”
Miss Edwards, who considers herself a “serial social solopreneur” has a Halifax-based company, One Small Key, which works with businesses and individuals on ways they can make changes to improve their work.
The idea for the bands came about when Miss Edwards attended the Bishop’s Breakfast networking event in May, where a senior police officer was speaking about the challenges of getting people from different backgrounds to speak to each other.
She said: “I joked that he should do what they did in London in the 1980s, when they held singles nights in supermarkets, where single people would wear a badge or sticker identifying themselves.
“I said they should do the same, wear badges that said ‘talk to me’. He loved the idea and suggested that I should apply for funding.”
Keen to see the idea turn to fruition, Miss Edwards immediately set about designing the bands and within a month she was ready to launch, funding the project herself.
They are now on sale across Calderdale and one of the first people to try them was Miss Edwards’s 85-year-old neighbour, Mary, who has already struck up conversations with other people wearing the bands.
She said: “I was wearing my bracelet and got chatting to a lady sitting on the bench beside me because she was also wearing hers.
“We had never met before.
“Within 10 minutes we had put the world to rights. It made me feel so much better.”
Miss Edwards believes the success of the bands lies in their simplicity.
“Many people would like to start a casual conversation but do not know if it will be considered an intrusion or lead to rejection and so do not take the risk,” she said.
“The idea is for adults of all ages to wear the wristband as an ‘ice-breaker’, to indicate that they would be happy to say ‘hi’ in passing, or if time allows, to talk to, chat or have a conversation with others, whether in a queue, at a bus stop, in a café or at a networking or social event – in fact anywhere.”
“Friendliness is good for our happiness, health, feeling supported and good for our economy too.
“The fact that a friendlier community automatically helps to reduce loneliness and feelings of isolation is a huge natural result and bonus.”
She also thinks the bands have potential to work in the business community, as “conversation openers” at networking events.
She said: “A lot of people are nervous about networking, but it can be useful in all kinds of ways.”
The bands are already on sale across Halifax, Hebden Bridge and Brighouse, and there are plans to expand across Yorkshire. For stockists and more information visit www.talk-to-me.today