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Event offers free cwtches in the capital.

IT'S all about bringing people together - by simply offering a free hug.

And that's exactly what was happening in Cardiff's Queen Street yesterday afternoon thanks to Free Hugs Cardiff.

And it seems that people are happy to accept a good old fashioned cwtch too.

Sri Ponnuswamy is the organiser of the Cardiff event. Speaking while hugging passers-by he said: "You can make people happy.

"Cardiff is a beautiful city with wonderful people and we need to do this to bring people together. Even if people don't give a hug they look at us and smile and that makes everything great.

"We normally do it for two hours and average 200 hugs. Cardiff needs hugs and we are bringing Cardiff together one hug at a time."

According to Sri, hugging is an important part of Welsh identity.

He said: "Thanks to the word cwtch hugging is part of Welsh culture. Because the passion, love and welcome is part of the culture - they love a free hug. The moment you have eye contact with people, they smile and they just can't resist, they come give you a hug."

He believes friendliness with strangers is more important now than ever to increase a sense of community.

"About 20 years ago you knew your neighbour but now if you ask most won't know," he said.

"The pub is disappearing and the sense of community is more on Facebook than anywhere else.

"Free hugs brings people together who are lonely. A lady was once watching us for a long time. She came over and gave us a hug. She had a tear in her eye and she said her partner passed away 10 years ago and she hasn't hugged anyone since then."

That woman was not the only one.

This weekend a woman started crying when she hugged volunteer Les Jones from Whitchurch.

Les said: "I think we have become very disconnected now we are on our machines. It is good to be in the moment and have eye contact with people - this is my fourth time.

"I had a lady cry today and said 'you don't know what that means to me'."

| You can learn more about the free hugs movement on www.facebook.com/FREEHUGSCARDIFF

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Sri Ponnuswamy was giving away free hugs in Queen Street, Cardiff, yesterday

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 3, 2017
Words:386
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