The truth is, making friends can be hard.
Especially if you are new to a local area and unfamiliar with the community. It can be frightening to meet new people and difficult to know where to even start.
That's why Facebook groups, like the 'New Friends (Mandurah Females Only)' group with over 1,100 members, are so important.
How it works is simple: women post a photo of themselves along with their interests, and others will comment if they share similarities. They'll organise to meet for a drink or attend a group activity, and get to know people in the online community.
Essentially a dating app, but for meeting friends.
"A lot of people aren't originally from Mandurah, so it's hard to find like minded people when you're out and about. Abi and I were both part of a group in Perth that was similar, but we hadn't seen anything like it in Mandurah, so we created the page.
"A lot of people have social anxiety as well as just not knowing how to find people. If you don't have that strong net of women from high school then it's almost like, 'how would you find it?'" Ms Barton said.
For Tanelle Godden, a member of the group, this was exactly the case.
"I'm pretty approachable and bubbly, but I'm definitely not one to go out on my own. I moved here [Mandurah] from Geraldton to help look after my nanna. I fell in love with the place but didn't have any friends.
"I put up a post of myself in the group, a picture of my dog and interests. My best friend sent me a message, we caught up for a drink and we've been inseparable since. That was over a year ago," Ms Godden said.
A 2018 study by the Australian Psychological Society revealed almost 55% of Australians feel they lack companionship at least sometimes. Further, one in four Australians experience high levels of social anxiety around interacting with new people.
Ms Barton, co-founder, described how her own personal anxieties around making friends inspired her to grow the online community.
"I really love helping other women. I've struggled myself to make friends and not have family around. I love the fact that there are people in there [the group] who have met their best friends."
Recently, the Facebook group has grown exponentially, with Ms Barton attributing this to the impacts of the pandemic.
"The past few weeks it's skyrocketed. A lot of people are moving into WA with COVID-19 in other states and people have been secluded from the rest of the world," Ms Barton said, adding that the last two years, women seemed to have been more active in the group, searching for support during uncertain times.
Ms Barton spends her personal time organising and running events for the group, with "a boat cruise, Melbourne cup day, dinners, hikes and walks," among the activities she sets up to connect women with others in the community.
The group has a range of women, between the ages of 18 and 60, meaning members can expect to find at least a few people their age to connect with.
When questioned on why the group was only open to women, Ms Barton said, "sometimes men can get the wrong idea of what friendship is, we wanted to keep it females empowering females."
Ms Godden added, "Everyone's in the same boat, whether they've been in Mandurah their whole life or not."
She finished with some advice to women considering joining the group, "don't be shy, put yourself out there, let things go from there."
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