Would like to meet? Hopes new forum will bring strangers together

Toni Milliken from Hempton

Toni Milliken from Hempton has reestablished the Fakenham Exchange, a forum bringing together anyone who is interested in having a chat. - Credit: Toni Milliken

A woman from Hempton is on a mission to bring back conversations between strangers.

Toni Milliken has re-established the Fakenham Exchange, a forum bringing together anyone who is interested in having a chat with someone they do not know to share a story or offer advice.

The exchange was set up in January 2020, having three meetings before the pandemic put them on hold. Now, Mrs Milliken is ready to bring them back, with their first meeting in 18 months taking place this September.

Mrs Milliken hosted three exchanges between January and March 2020, before the pandemic put them on hold.

Mrs Milliken hosted three exchanges between January and March 2020, before the pandemic put them on hold. - Credit: Toni Milliken

The 39-year-old set up the group as she herself was struggling to meet new people in the county after moving to work at Gunthorpe Hall back in 2014. After leaving the role they were looking to find new friends.

“When we left it was a case of meeting new people, but everything is now done online,” she said.


You may also want to watch:


“I was thinking about how to meet people of all ages and get them talking again. I love talking and I believe verbalizing gives power.

“I’m now a mindset coach and with covid at our heels rather than a roadblock, there is no better time to kick off the exchange.”

She is now looking to bring people back together as their worlds have shrunk as a result of the lockdowns.

She is now looking to bring people back together as their worlds have shrunk as a result of the lockdowns. - Credit: Toni Milliken

Most Read

Throughout the pandemic, Mrs Milliken worked at the Wensum Valley Vets as a receptionist.

She is now looking to bring people back together as their worlds have shrunk as a result of the lockdowns.

“People's worlds have been so small and have forgotten the art of conversation, communication and connection," she said.

The entrance to The Gallow Fakenham Sports Centre PICTURE: Matthew Farmer

When the group first met at The Gallow back in January, 2020. - Credit: Archant

"We must step out of our comfort zone and see what the world looks like so we can rebuild that sense of community.

“I want to help create a sense of belonging, community and a greater good.”

When the group first met at The Gallow back in January there were around 15 people who attended.

But the group's latest Facebook post shows 50 people interested in taking part when it returns.

It is now set for a tour of Fakenham, with a different venue playing host each month, with The Limes in Bridge Street hosting the first exchange on September 8, starting at 7pm.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter