The vital importance of social connection – an interview with TimePeace

Published by: Teresa Norman

Published on: 16 Jan, 2020

Interview with TimePeace.

Photo from a TimePeace event

Discover how one organisation is transforming the lives of migrants in the UK, empowering them through social connections, skill-sharing, and vibrant community events.

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by TogetherintheUK. Every month, we look at different themes that impact on migrants. This month, it’s the start of a new decade and we are looking at New Beginnings, so we thought it a good idea to talk to an organisation that helps people build their lives in the UK by making social connections, sharing skills and hosting events.

First of all, we would like to know a bit about you:

Tell us a bit about what you do and what your goals are?

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all and thank you for including us in your blog. 

Our mission at TimePeace is to bridge the social gap between locals and refugees & asylum seekers arriving in the UK. 

We create informal opportunities for people to come together to share their interests and skills. We have hosted a range of free events in London from wallet-making to attending the opera. Last year, we started running Speed Friending events so people can connect in person en masse and are currently piloting Slack as an online tool to enable our community to self-organise. 

By giving people from different groups the opportunity to connect we hope to create more integrated communities and reshape the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers. 

How does what you do help people build their lives in the UK?

Currently it is nearly impossible for refugees and locals to meet outside of the formal structures of support services. The result is social isolation, poor mental health and a divided society.

We are working to change this. 

By creating informal ways for refugees and locals to meet, share their interests and get to know each other (usually over some free food) we are breaking down the divisions between communities and forging the way for people to build networks outside of their immediate circles. Networks are an incredibly powerful tool for building your life as they open up new opportunities, give access and provide support. 

How do people find out about you?

Follow us @timepeaceapp on Facebook or Instagram to hear about our upcoming events or join our mailing list

We know your events are fantastic, what do you do to encourage people to attend and what are your tips for events which are cross cultural?

Running events can be challenging and we have learnt a lot over the last few years. Some top tips would be:

  • Partner up with other organisations to drive attendance and grow your communities together (if you are involved in a refugee organisation and would like to partner up on a Speed Friending event, send us an email to as we’d love to chat!)
  • Always over invite and don’t get disheartened if your attendance is lower than you had hoped for! What is important is that you create the best experience for those who came (they are your future champions and your best allies in improving what you do)
  • Free food is always a winner! We love working with upcoming refugee food entrepreneurs as our community gets to try food from all over the world and we give the entrepreneurs a platform. We have worked with some of TERN‘s entrepreneurs including Amer Cuisine (@amercuisine), Nana Nokki (@nananokki), Tala Caterer (@tala_caterer), Osman Market (@osmans_market) and Mo’s Eggs (@mos_eggs)

What are the most popular skills that refugees seek?

Good question. Our community is very diverse; from Syrian doctors and Iraqi rappers to Sudanese shoemakers and Nigerian lawyers. Every person is looking for and can offer something different, but I think one thing that everyone seeks is social connection. 

What are the most popular skills that people living here offer?

Londoners are surprisingly shy about what they can offer; many people get flustered about naming something they are good at so often opt for “showing people around”. 

What makes the skill exchange work?

We are still exploring this ourselves. The majority of our meet-ups have been socially focused for example, visiting an exhibition at the V&A, playing tennis, cooking, going to a comedy gig, careers advice etc. 

You started in 2017, what have been the challenges and what has made you most proud?

Tough question – I think the most rewarding thing for all of us has been seeing people who have met through TimePeace become friends. 

What have you learnt about the challenges of making a new life in the UK?

Everyone’s challenges are highly personal, but having a support network around you can make the world of difference.

What advice would you give to anyone migrating to the UK?

Come along to one of our Speed Friending events 🙂 If you are nervous about attending, just drop us a message on social media. We know meeting people can often feel scary, but that is what we are here to help with.

What are your plans for 2020?

At the moment they are threefold:

1/ Making Speed Friending a monthly occurrence from February 

2/ Doing research with our community to better understand what TimePeace can do for them and the direction we take next.

3/ Exploring how we can use technology to create a scalable solution to social integration.

If someone wants to share a skill, what should they do?

Come along to one of our Speed Friending events and join our Slack community. We currently piloting Slack as a digital platform to enable our community to connect and share skills with each other independently of our events. 

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