AN ONLINE social group has been set up for single Dorset residents to tackle loneliness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hazel Kelly, 44, a scheme manager for sheltered housing, created Dorset Singles Social Group on Facebook at the end of March 2021.

Although the group is for single people, it was not created for dating purposes.

Hazel said: "I have been single myself for 16 months. When I met up with members of other groups, I felt like a gooseberry as I was the only single person there.

"This is not a dating group, it’s a social group for single people. I wanted to make something more unique. In the group, you can get to know fellow single people who are interested in similar things. The group is connecting people together and helping them make the first step."

Despite the fact the group was only created a few weeks ago, it already boasts 115 members and plans are already being made for future events.

Hazel said: "We are hoping to hold our first in-person meet up in June with a picnic, restrictions permitting. In the meantime, I find online events and post them in the group.

"I try to adapt the group for all ages and I keep my mind open to people from all walks of life and age groups. There are loads of different people in the group which is really good.

"It’s definitely important to have a group like this during these times. A man who joined the group soon after I set it up moved back to the area after 25 years away. He’s currently isolating and has said that this group has been a godsend as he didn’t know anyone when he moved back."

To join Hazel's group, search Dorset Singles Social Group on Facebook.