One small step for young people, one giant leap for tackling youth loneliness

One small step for young people, one giant leap for tackling youth loneliness

Co-op Foundation campaign to help lonely young people share stories and improve mental wellbeing launches today

  • Check out the beta website – we’ll be live at lonelynotalone.org from 14 October, with our first few submissions (more will be added in the coming weeks to fill the digital sky with stars)
  • Images and anonymous case studies available on request

A digital universe launches today for young people to safely and anonymously share their experiences of loneliness, and the small steps they’ve taken to tackle it. 

Lonelynotalone.org is the first platform of its kind and is part of the Co-op Foundation’s Lonely Not Alone campaign to address the stigma of youth loneliness. The campaign has been backed by NUS, Universities UK, apprenticeship providers, Co-op Academies Trust, and Co-op.

The platform is designed to connect young people and invites 10 to 25-year-olds to explore an exact replica of this evening’s night sky. Here, they can type or leave voice notes detailing their experiences of loneliness for others to read and learn from. 

These brave, honest and authentic stories will be made into stars in the digital night sky. Each star will be put into a Lonely Not Alone constellation*, which represents a different experience of loneliness and aligns with real constellations you can see tonight. 

This means that young people can look up into the night sky at any time and see their star shining bright. Lonely Not Alone reminds young people: The universe goes on forever. Loneliness doesn’t have to.

Trailblazing Unicorn (Pegasus) is one of the constellations. It will gradually fill with stories from young people who are lonely because they feel different from their peers.  

This year’s campaign has been designed by 15 young people aged 14-22 in partnership with specialist co-design agency, Effervescent

The launch comes as newly released stats from the Co-op Foundation reveal the impact of home schooling and home working on loneliness. 

Researchers spoke to 2001 10 to 25-year-olds and found¹: 

  • Almost half (46%) said if they could go into school or their workplace more often, they would feel less lonely
  • Over two fifths (44%) said doing schoolwork or working at home makes them feel more lonely

The research also show that interventions like Lonely Not Alone work to tackle loneliness, revealing that: 

  • Three fifths (60%) of young people who are lonely at least occasionally agree that that talking about how they feel is easier to do online than in person¹
  • Almost two thirds of young people (64%) say helping other people makes them feel less lonely
  • Seven out of 10 young people (67%) say seeing people talk about loneliness would help them to understand other people’s feelings and experiences.

Co-op Foundation research from September found there are currently 1.9m chronically lonely young people in the UK – 400,000 more than in August 2020². 

Helen, 21, one of the co-designers of the Lonely Not Alone campaign said: 

“Loneliness is actually a common and natural human experience. I’ve definitely had times in my life when I’ve been lonely, but it comes and goes. Loneliness doesn’t last forever. 

“It’s really important that we start to normalise talking about loneliness. I hope that through this year’s Lonely Not Alone campaign, young people can learn that other people feel the exact same way they do, and putting it into words, or talking about it can help.”

 Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation, said:

“The past 18 months have been a challenging time for everyone, but for many young people, they’ve felt like their lives have been put on hold, making connections hard to create and maintain. 

Our research found that loneliness is intrinsically linked to mental wellbeing. We hope our Lonely Not Alone campaign together with Co-op’s work in communities, can have a positive impact on young people.  

“We’re so proud of our young co-designers who set about creating a space for other young people to connect and start a conversation about loneliness. Their creativity that has resulted in an entire universe that allows young people to build empathy and understanding of loneliness, while sharing useful, practical tips for other lonely young people.”

Minister for Civil Society Nigel Huddleston, said: 

“As we continue our recovery from the pandemic, it’s vital to understand that for many people, loneliness will not simply go away. 

“That’s why I’m clear that we will learn from the experience of lockdown and continue our important work to tackle loneliness. 

“In my very first week as Minister responsible, I’m very impressed by the launch of the Co-op Foundation’s innovative and engaging digital platform, and I’m extremely confident that it will help a lot of young people realise that they are not alone.”

Chris Tomlinson, CEO at Co-op Academies Trust, said: 

“Lonely Not Alone is a fantastic experience that our academies love to get involved with alongside the Co-op Foundation. We’re proud to support it.

“It’s vital that we have honest conversations with young people about loneliness – and even more so after the last 18 months. 

“We hope that Lonely Not Alone will shine a light on youth loneliness and help youngsters feel empowered to talk about it with their peers.”

John de Pury, Assistant Director of Policy at Universities UK, said: 

“Lonely Not Alone is an important and timely campaign which will open conversations about loneliness among students and young people. The stories, experiences, and solutions to overcome loneliness shared through the campaign will provide valuable insight for students, young people and those that support them, including universities.”

Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeships Partnerships Director at Kaplan, said: 

“The lockdown forced most of Kaplan’s apprentices to work remotely and, like other training providers, we had to close classrooms. That meant the informal connections for apprentices from work and studying were instantly lost. We keenly felt our apprentices’ sense of isolation and the negative effect of the pandemic on many of our apprentices’ mental health.  

“Even though we increased the amount of contact and online support, we never underestimate the lasting impact that Covid is having on so many young people’s wellbeing. Although classrooms have now re-opened and apprentices are returning to their offices, the sense of loneliness and anxiety may well continue beyond the lockdown. So, the more that can be done to re-establish connection for young people and provide opportunities to talk about how they’re feeling, the better. And that’s why we’re pleased to support the Lonely Not Alone campaign.”  

Steve Murrells, CEO of Co-op, said:

“The creativity of the young people who created this year’s Lonely Not Alone campaign is something to be celebrated. This year’s campaign comes at a time when we’re starting to look beyond the pandemic – a time that’s hit young people particularly hard. 

“Young people deserve the opportunity to tackle loneliness, improve their mental wellbeing and be part of a world that’s fair for everyone. I hope the Lonely Not Alone universe can help young people gain comfort and connection by sharing their experiences of loneliness, and the important steps they’ve taken to help themselves.”  

This is the third year of the Lonely Not Alone campaign. In previous years, supporters have shown solidarity with lonely young people by wearing yellow socks.

Co-op Foundation has been tackling youth loneliness since Co-op and British Red Cross research found young people were lonely more than any other age group. Since 2017, it has awarded more than £6.5m to youth projects and helped to develop networks and resources to support youth workers.

This is the third year of the Lonely Not Alone campaign. In previous years, supporters have shown solidarity with lonely young people by wearing yellow socks.

Co-op Foundation has been tackling youth loneliness since Co-op and British Red Cross research found young people were lonely more than any other age group. Since 2017, it has awarded more than £6.5m to youth projects and helped to develop networks and resources to support youth workers.

 About Co-op Foundation  

  • Co-op Foundation is the Co-op’s charity, helping people challenge inequality and co-operate for change so they can share a fairer future.  
  • We want to make long-lasting change but for now we’re focusing on three areas:  
    • Our Belong projects have already helped thousands of young people beat loneliness. We’re now sharing what we’ve learned so others can do more to make a difference that lasts.  
    • Strong communities work together to make things better. We fund in partnership with others to help people do even more.  
    • We want voices to be heard from communities that feel the effects of inequality, and we invest in organisations that truly represent those who are often ignored.   

www.coopfoundation.org.uk     

About Lonely Not Alone 

  • Space. Vast, empty, cold. Loneliness can feel this way too. Floating aimlessly, it’s hard to feel the gravitational pull from people who love you for who you are. But loneliness is not forever. 
  • Take a step into the Lonely Not Alone universe. Here, we are all stars. We’re part of beautiful constellations made up of young people spread far and wide, connected by our shared experiences. We’re fierce, fiery, beautiful balls of light, waiting to find meaningful connections in the darkness.  
  • This is a safe place for young people to share our stories, to find our tribe and to discover the one small step that could help to make things better – for ourselves or for someone else. This is a place to know we’re not alone.  
  • The universe goes on forever.  Loneliness doesn’t have to. 

www.lonelynotalone.org    

About Effervescent 

Effervescent is a unique creative agency that helps ethical organisations to co-create authentic campaigns with children and young people. Their projects change the lives of the young people who take part, and their campaigns create large scale social impact.

www.eff.org.uk