Stand up to Youth Loneliness
Stereotypically, when we are asked to consider loneliness we picture someone who is elderly, perhaps frail, trapped in their home and struggling to connect with others in the wider world. But loneliness is not just something which affects the elderly. Recent research by the Red Cross and Co-Op Foundation has shown that young people are feeling increasingly lonely and socially isolated in society.
Youth loneliness can be stigmatising, hidden and disregarded; after all, young people are often thought to be constantly in contact with their peers on their phones and through social media. But loneliness is not about how many people we have around us. Loneliness occurs when there is a gap between our actual and desired social relationships; when the quality or quantity of these relationships does not meet our expectations. For young people, this might occur for a variety of reasons including poor self-image, bullying, disability or caring responsibilities and can leave a lasting impact well into adulthood.
We have developed a youth campaign – Stand up to Youth Loneliness – to tackle the stigma around loneliness in young people across North Yorkshire and gives them a voice to talk about it.
As part of the campaign development, we held workshops with young people across North Yorkshire. We asked them what causes their feelings of loneliness. They gave us a range of responses including:
- ‘The lack of public transport in my area means that I’m physically not able to go anywhere or do anything’
- ‘Social media can also make you feel lonely, especially if people don’t answer straight away and you can see that they have read your message. Some people also don’t have social media and this is harder because you can’t get in touch with people.’
- ‘I don’t feel like I fit in. Sometimes if I‘m by myself people will make comments. It’s hard not being understood by people your age or by older people like your parents’
Our youth loneliness campaign contains a range of resources including:
- Posters for schools, organisations and youth groups,
- A leaflet for young people
- Resources for professionals
- A page on The Go-To, a website dedicated to supporting young people with mental health and other issues
Laura Thomas, Project Manager at Community First Yorkshire