Hugs Here (London), There (Krakow, Berlin, Edinburgh) and Everywhere (Amsterdam & Tallinn)

Guerrilla Hugs has been going for over 3 years now and we have visited many places around the world recruiting people to come and hug as part of our team. There are Guerrilla Hugs Boards in Polish, Russian, Dutch and English with satelite groups of huggers in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Edinburgh, St. Petersburg and Krakow. The positive impact on where we offer hugs is evident, people smile, connect, stop for a hug and/or a chat and some people want to get involved. If you want to get involved contact guerrillahugs@gmail.com and we will be in touch!

Let’s make London the best place to be this summer to connect with other people.

International Happiness Day 20th March 2013

I left my house and as I walked around the corner I instantly regretted not putting thermals on under my clothes – a bitterly cold March day saw the first International Happiness Day bring a little sunshine by way of random acts of kindness world-wide. Guerrilla Hugs was delighted to take part and warm the cockles of people’s hearts at Waterloo. Armed with a heap of Guerrilla Hugs boards I headed to the station to meet Emma (experienced hugger and kindness personified) to head down to Waterloo.

I’m never sure who will turn up and always hope that people will feel able to come and join in and I was not disappointed! New Guerrilla Huggers joined, Jon Jon, Ewa, Adam and Richard. We met at a coffee shop, after the initial briefing walked towards the Southbank stopping just under the arches. It was FREEZING! Nonetheless it wasn’t long before people were heading in for hugs, chatting and smiling as they passed us by or gave us a hug.

I bumped into 2 fellow MAPP students who are just beginning their research and gave them a huge hug (I recall how much hard work the research is and am pleased to have finished mine). Soon Paul from Action for Happiness arrived with a ‘Happy Hero’ Medal for Guerrilla Hugs – what a lovely thing to happen! I was really touched and as much as I wanted to cling onto it – I immediately knew who I was going to pass it onto.

The hour of hugs soon came to an end and we all headed off to our next event, Adam was going to join in the positive messages flash mob at Liverpool Street!

That evening I passed the Happy Hero Medal onto Delwar Hossain for his kindness, humility and work that he does with East End youth.

I hope that we will get our and hug a lot more this year – if you want to come along or suggest a location please send me an email guerrillahugs @ gmail.com

Happy Hugging!

Guerrilla Hugs Where Have We Been?


Camouflage Crochet Cab! Hugs in Bath 12th May

Things have been busy in the Guerrilla Hugs world, as many of you know I am currently completing an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology with a particular interest in how everyday platonic touch can increase well being. So this year has been spent developing the research and recruiting participants who are happy to give their time to finding out whether free hugs contribute positively to well being? So this year we have hugged at Willesden Green Station in February when it was -4 degrees… we were due to hug at the Love Run in Finsbury Park too – but this was postponed due to the weather!

We celebrated our 1st Birthday on March the 18th by returning to Carnaby Street, it was a lovely day and the huggers and the huggees all raised the happiness levels up a notch or two. Lots of people take photos of us when we are hugging and we would love to have some of them posted on here – so if you have some please do send them to navigator@guerrillahugs.com if you have a story to go with them that would be beautiful!

Due to coursework deadlines in April we had a break but came back to hugs in Sheffield on the 6th May with some lovely people who are up for creating a group of Guerrilla Huggers in South Yorkshire!

Last weekend I went to Bath and 3 of us offered free hugs in the city centre, it was a beautiful sunny day and we gave lots of free hugs! My visit to Bath coincided with an artist called Olek creating an installation of crochet wrapping of trees it was great to see how people reacted to this too! The taxi driver Raymundo has been commissioned to drive her all over the country creating installations!

Tomorrow we will be hugging on the Southbank – so come and see us! And Sunday 20th we will be popping up somewhere else in London around lunchtime – we might be in your area so keep a look out! If you want to join us get n touch!

Southbank 2011

Guerrilla Hugs Mission Statement

Guerrilla Hugs aims to reduce stigma of platonic touch in everyday life, to encourage social platonic touching and strengthen communities.

By carrying out research into platonic touch we aim to establish clear guidance on how much touch contributes to a flourishing life.

By 2013 we hope to have influenced policy on touch in education, health and social care, increasing availability of platonic touch to aid recovery from illness, alleviate stress, increase social bonds and recruit volunteers to carry out Guerrilla Hugs around the globe.

If you want to join us please register for updates and send an email!

Love & Peace

The Navigator

Guerrilla Hugs

Platonic Hugs

If you are feeling alone, unconnected and/or going through changes in your life reaching out and asking people you know for a hug might help. Our skin is the largest organ we have and possibly the most neglected and abused through sun/bed damage, poor diet, lack of touch we are depriving ourselves of the very thing that nutures us in our infancy.

In the US a study compared American pre-schoolers to French children of the same age, they found that American children touched less, argued more, showed more aggressive behaviours and fretted more than their French counterparts. The French children received more touch from parents and peers in play, showed more concern for others and less aggression. A similar study explored the same of adolescents with the same results. How do we change this? Firstly studies on primates have shown that touch and grooming behaviours go beyond what is necessary for everyday cleanliness. Primates who bond through grooming each other and platonic, non-threatening touch, show more protective behaviours to their peers. Monkeys who were deprived of touch throughout infancy were able to reach normal milestones when they were able to experience giving and receiving of touch with their peers, this suggests that even those young people who have been deprived of touch could, potentially achieve a better connection with their cerebral emotional pleasure zone thereby reducing aggressive disconnected behaviours.

The next best thing to being hugged is to take a hot bath, fill it with bubbles and soak, this stimulates the skin and relaxes you – so if there is no one to hug make bath time a regular thing!

London Bridge

Free Hugs Friday a First at London BridgeA warm early evening in London, what better way to spend it then to offer free hugs to everyone on and around London Bridge? The guerrilla team settled them selves at the corner of Duke Hill Street and London Bridge and awaited the approach of people wanting hugs. A good point was raised by someone on Twitter who was watching us:

“I’m watching you at London Bridge. I see no gorillas, and you’re not forcing hugs on people – your name is terrible! ;)”

 

I replied:

The Big Squeeze“Why thank you! Come & have a hug!”

Response:

“I’m enjoying watching the terrified/confused looks on most peoples faces WAY more!”

He was right lots of people look worried, curious, suspicious as they pass us by, is this because we have created a culture of fear? Considering how important touch is and how difficult for some people to give or receive touch is, we are mindful in how we approach ‘free hugs’, I suppose the bigger concern is that touch or comforting children at school is off limits, is this a form of neglect? I would argue that the children, older people, those in care of any sort need touch from people other than medical interventions. Instinctively comforting another human being is an important part of building communities, generating loyalty and bonding behaviours, reducing aggression and increasing human thriving.

We can all make a difference by reaching out to others, being open to connection and by challenging inhuman policies.

Although lots of people didn’t stop for a hug on Friday, rushing for the train etc the one thing that we always notice is that people smile, laugh and something shifts. We don’t need to jump on people, dress as gorillas or even get one hug when we do guerrilla hugs if we have a positive effect on one person’s day then that’s good enough. Although in fairness I love the idea of dressing as a gorilla and hugging people – if you know anyone who has a beautiful gorilla suit – not those nasty plastic smelly ones – please let me know!

RSA Events – Flourish

Martin Seligman the author of Flourish and one of the people who coined the term Positive Psychology gave a talk on the aspects of his book on the 6th July 2011 at the RSA. The room was packed and the event was podcast live. The RSA always put on great events, this one is close to my heart. I am familiar with Seligman’s work, his early research into learned helplessness led him to developing learned optimism, and evolving more of a balance within the psychology field more emphasis on flourishing rather than repairing or fixing problems.

Flourish – Can you flourish without touch?

Seligman manages to explore human flourishing without actually exploring human touch, this I find disappointing, how can people thrive or flourish without physical contact?

Martin Seligman gets a Hug at the RSA On the 2nd July in Newcastle Under Lyme some first time huggers got busy offering free hugs in the town centre. A new outpost of Guerrilla Huggers has now been formed. I travelled with a friend who has been an observer of our hugs before but had never offered free hugs. She was still unsure as to whether she would hug or not. When we arrived she decided to go for it, what happened had a significant impact on her mood and shifted her well being up a few notches.

Newcastle Under Lyme Hugs

As she was offering hugs her confidence grew, she smiled more, her stature was different and everything seemed to flow. Then an older man stopped for a hug, she duly hugged him, he said “I so miss being held, I haven’t had a hug since my wife died”. They stood chatting about the importance of touch and how to find ways of getting more platonic touch in life, it’s the one thing that everyone steers clear of and yet everyone needs touch in their life to thrive. I am writing this here to illustrate the need for positive psychology, policy makers and people in general to start recognising the obvious need to create safe touch in everyday life for people who live alone of any age, for people in care homes and hospitals to receive touch other than medical interventions. Since my friend came hugging she reports a significant shift in her own well being, she feels happier and life feels better for her, could it be that by giving hugs you increase your own well being by intention?

Man Hugs

I asked Seligman about the exclusion of touch from the notion of human flourishing, he agreed there is a need for more research into touch – you can listen here I ask it right at the end. Where does touch sit in the notion of human rights? The right to have connections with meaning and purpose not based on fear?