Our students help co-design national loneliness campaign

Our students help co-design national loneliness campaign

‘We are lonely, but not alone’ encourages everyone to wear yellow socks to show they care about youth loneliness.

We are very proud to report that five of our students have helped to co-design a national campaign to beat the stigma of youth loneliness.

Finlay Myers, aged 12; Emily Bate aged 12; Taylor Lomas, aged 13; Claire Muhlawako Madzura, aged 15; and Elorm Fiavor aged 15 were among nine young people who worked with specialist youth co-design agency, Effervescent, to create ‘We are lonely, but not alone’.

The campaign launched on 23 September and encourages everyone to wear yellow socks to show they care about youth loneliness. Supporters can then post a picture of themselves online using #LonelyNotAlone.

People are invited to get involved whenever and wherever they like. Every time someone wears yellow socks, they’ll show young people everywhere that youth loneliness matters.

Young people chose yellow socks as their campaign idea because the colour reminded them of hope, while the semi-hidden nature of socks reflected what loneliness felt like for them.

Co-op Academy Swinton students also helped to create characters for an animation that reflect how they feel lonely. Characters include a unicorn, who feels different, and a ‘crocoduck’ – a duck that pretends to be a crocodile to fit in with others. The animation is narrated by 15-year-old Mia Povey, from Middlesbrough. Watch this and more at www.lonelynotalone.org from 23 September.

To kick off the campaign, we were also thrilled to host a group discussion with some of the students involved to talk about youth loneliness and their own personal experiences of it. With everyone wearing yellow socks our students raised some very thought-provoking points and they left confident to pass on the message of the campaign to the rest of our school community.

‘We are lonely, but not alone’ is launched as research finds only 26% of young people are confident talking about loneliness, and even less (23%) believe society treats it as a serious social issue. Researchers spoke to 2,044 young people aged 10 to 25 years old UK-wide and also found that less than a third (31%) would be comfortable asking for help if they felt lonely.

However, the Co-op Foundation research also found that lonely young people are proactively trying to overcome their feelings of loneliness, and help others:

  • 74% of young people have taken at least one action that helped with their own feelings of loneliness
  • 73% have tried to help other young people who might be lonely
  • An estimated 1.7million young people across the UK would be comfortable helping their peers to beat loneliness, but are yet to do so

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said:

Loneliness is a feeling we can all relate to, but few of us realise that young people are affected more than any other age group. ‘We are lonely, but not alone’ has been created by young people for young people to tackle the stigma of youth loneliness and help us all to show we care. Get involved today to help young people everywhere see that youth loneliness matters and that even if they do feel lonely, they are not alone.

Taylor, 13, said she wanted to get involved due to feeling different from other young people her age:

We are lonely, but not alone’ has made me realise that if someone is lonely, you don’t just walk past them – you ask if they are okay, or you see if they want to spend time with you. This project has really developed my confidence. I have realised through this process that I am lovable and wonderful, after all, and that has helped me to find deeper and better friendships at school. I now have some great friendships with people.

‘We are lonely, but not alone’ is funded by the Co-op Foundation and government. It builds on the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign.

Co-op Foundation is the leading charity tackling youth loneliness in the country. It has invested £6.5 million in projects UK-wide while also supporting the development of resources and networks to help youth workers identify and tackle youth loneliness with greater confidence.

Get involved with ‘We are lonely, but not alone’ at: www.lonelynotalone.org or follow @lonelynotalone on Twitter.

Read more about the Co-op Foundation: www.coopfoundation.org.uk