‘Single Ladies’, ‘Ladies’ Night’, ‘Sisters Do It For Themselves’: a power trio of local women – Belinda Berini, Claire Paton and Carla Sedgwick – recently started a Facebook group for single women to meet and organise social events together – Single Ladies of Gibraltar, so that they wouldn’t shy away from living their life to the fullest just because of lack of companionship.
Unlike the similar venture ‘Single Mingle’ launched a couple of years ago, this group is strictly for women, albeit there are no age restrictions and the organisers are actually surprised at the diverse ages and walks of life who responded to their Facebook invitation, and how they quickly got along.
“Our aim is not to provide a platform for potential dates,” founder Belinda says, “but to support each other and have fun at events and gatherings single women would fancy attending without having to break the bank.”
“Indeed, affordability is one of our main concerns,” Claire adds. “We are aware that money may be tight for single mothers, so we don’t put them on the spot with expensive ideas, as we care more for simple, intimate venues where we can socialise safely, rather than the glamorous lifestyle.” That said, it doesn’t have to be always frugal, and they are already looking into getting promoters to offer VIP package deals for concerts on the coast this summer, or even holiday packages in kid-friendly resorts.
The pair, who met while working at a local supermarket and immediately ‘clicked’, claims that no event is too big or too small to organise or attend, and suggestions from other members are welcome, actually hoping that, if the group grows as steadily as the first month showed, there will be more than one person in charge of the practical and administrative side of fun, like booking venues, scouting the best deals and keeping tabs on participants in order to bag discounts and make sure everyone is accounted for.
“We are open to suggestions: tell us what you’ve been always dreaming to do but never had the courage to go for it, and together we can organise it – or perhaps just turn up to support you, from singing at a karaoke night to hiking,” Belinda says. “Most requests received so far have been down-to-earth, but nonetheless significant: someone to share Sunday lunch or going to the cinema with, or helping hands at a children’s party at the park. Saturday morning coffee or Friday night drinks are a popular rendezvous too, but fitness comes to play as well, with salsa classes in the pipeline. Should you wish for a gym buddy or someone to power-walk with, just post it on our wall so others can join in and you can turn a work out into a day out.”
They observe how sometimes single women are sidelined in their married friends’ circles, perhaps because they are friends with their exes too, and they end up taking – or not taking – sides and avoid them just to avoid the awkwardness that ensues; on the other hand, the newly single woman may find her priorities shifting and willing to run in new circles where they can feel whole again instead of just a half devoided of its better half.
They add that in Gibraltar, more than elsewhere, newly single women are lucky enough to be reabsorbed into their families – which is helpful indeed emotionally and home-economically – but one must not rely solely on their parents or siblings and dare instead to overstep the boundaries of one’s comfort zone in order to start living again. “A breakup is not the end, life goes on and together we make it easier.”
Child-free and child-friendly ideas for the weekend are always welcome, keeping in mind that several members may share custody of their children hence have them in tow on alternate weekends: “The first weekends ‘off’ my three young children spent with their father, the house was too quiet and surreal,” Belinda says. “I realised I needed to muster a group of like-minded women with whom to plan our free time ahead. So Claire and I just said ‘Let’s do it!’, we created the Facebook page and we proposed a coffee morning to meet and greet. The response was great: our group includes some two hundred members!”
“We didn’t expect there would be so many single ladies in Gibraltar! And there might be more, but they may not be social media savvy, that’s why we’re planning alternative ways to reach out to all,” adds Claire, who moved to Gibraltar last autumn with her mother, eager to start a new chapter in her life, after having raised two boys on her own.
Word of mouth is the best publicity and if you have a single friend who has a single friend who has a single friend… well, bring them along: the more the merrier! But it isn’t a ‘free for all’: prospective members are ‘vetted’ before being inducted in this closed group to protect them from predators.
words | Elena Scialtiel