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Have you ever lost contact with a friend and later in life wished you could take steps to reconnect? Searching on the ever resourceful internet is one of the most effective ways to find the information that could help you get back in contact with old acquaintances - so we've created a step-by-step guide on how to find old friends online.
The internet is a huge resource for reconnecting with old friends. From Google and social media to government websites, finding and contacting people has never been so accessible. But with so many options, the whole process can seem overwhelming.
Google is your first point of call and a gold mine for finding information. Start by searching for their name, combined with their last known address, place of employment and any organisations they could be part of. Remember to put individual search terms in quotation marks.
Marriage or divorce may have changed their last name so try searching by maiden name also, if you know it. If your friend has a name with common nicknames such as Elizabeth or William, it might be worth doing a search of the most popular combined with their last name/maiden name.
Whilst it is possible that your searches won't bring up any direct links to the person you are looking for, they may offer information about family members. What do you know of their family? Perhaps they have a relative who works in academia who is therefore listed on a university database or an artist who likely has their own website. It is possible that some of your friend's relatives have social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
LinkedIn is a great place to search for people using their employment history. Start by searching using all the companies which, to your knowledge, your friend has worked for.
If you happen to know that one of your friend's children once worked for a larger company, you can try to find them through their children. They may or may not be 'linked', but they will be able to help you. Request to link with them, wait for the acceptance and then you can send them a personal message.
On Facebook you can search for people by finding the 'search for friends' tab. Enter as many details as possible. Facebook will prioritise people who share common attributes with your own Facebook profile such as mutual friends, location and work places.
If searching for your friend's name does not bring any results, try to think about any interests and groups they may have 'liked'. Facebook has a large number of pages set up by local groups such as charities, cultural organisations and sports clubs.
Facebook will also provide you with a list of 'suggested friends'. If you don't know any of these people, don't worry, they have been selected based on indicators such as mutual friends, education and work histories. If you click the 'x', this person will disappear and be replaced with another suggestion. Friends or family of your friend may come up so it is worth having a look at this function.
You can also use websites such as Pipl and Peopletracer to help find additional information about your friend.
The General Register Office has all the registered records of an individual - birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership and death certificates - in England and Wales dating back to 1837.
There are, of course, many reasons for wanting to find an old friend. But whether it's something specific, a reunion of former school or workmates, or just curiosity (haven't we all wondered "whatever happened to so and so..." at some point), catching up on intervening years and reigniting your friendship can be rewarding and a lot of fun. Friendships - old and new - can have many positive benefits.
Lack of daily social contact is believed to be a driving factor behind widespead loneliness together with bereavement, divorce and retirement. In a recent survey, 39% said that sometimes an entire day goes past where they haven't spoken to anyone. The survey revealed that 73% of those surveyed said they feel lonely some or all of the time. Loneliness is often a hidden problem that people avoid talking about due to stigma. Of those who said they're lonely, 56% said they’ve never spoken about their loneliness to anyone.
When asked how people felt they might combat loneliness, 39% said that getting in contact with friends and family would be most effective and 34% said joining Gransnet or another internet site may help. Set up in association with the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness along with partner organisations, the Gransnet Café is a non-judgemental space for people to have their say and chat about their day whether they're struggling to make friends in real life or just want find someone to talk to. 56% of those surveyed feel that social media helps them feel less lonely, so whether you wish to seek out advice for a particular problem or share an update on your life, feel free to pop in for a cuppa with some virtual friends. You can also visit your local site for information about meet-ups and events.