The issue of Youth Loneliness
According to the Office of National Statistics “compared to people over 65, three times as many 16 to 24 year olds regularly feel lonely.”* Stereo-typically young people may spend a lot of time on social media, but less time face-to-face in the ‘real world’.
In the words of a recent report from the “Loneliness Connects Us” project (run by Manchester Metropolitan University and young people’s mental health organisationy 42nd Street), “There is the sense that anyone even people who are apparently doing really well can experience loneliness and that the negativity and isolation embodied in loneliness make it hard to share.” (Loneliness Connects Us pp.35)
Looking forward – how to make change
It can be hard to know how to help a young person, be it a friend, family member or colleague who might be feeling lonely. Research from “Loneliness Connects Us” identified ways to take positive steps forward, for example suggesting making “low-key offers of connection and companionship especially at moments of difficulty or change” (pp.7)
Archway’s Young Adults Project
It is the recognition that more needs to be done locally to address youth loneliness and bring young people together ‘face to face’ that inspired Archway to pilot the Young Adults Project for people aged 18 – 30 experiencing loneliness. This is a regular meet up in a safe supportive environment with trained volunteers present to be alongside and support members of the group (Archway Friends).
Lu Cozma Archway’s Young Adults Project Service Coordinator updates us on the project:
“The Archway young adults social meetings in Oxford have become a hub of activity revolving around board games and conversation. Who would have thought such simplicity could bring young people together?
“Last session we had two games in parallel that became highly entertaining (and mildly competitive), whilst one group member called out random humorous trivia which brought us all in fits of laughter. Creating a safe space and trusting young people to lead the way and self direct in session has given our new young Archway Friends the opportunity to see the lighter side of life and yet be supported when overwhelmed by life, circumstance and ordeal by our fabulous team of Volunteers who listen intently and unconditionally. As predicted our Young Adults Project is proving to be vital to our community. Archway identified a growing number of young people who are socially isolated and hurt by loneliness. We have and will continue to reach out to more in Oxford and Abingdon.”
Get involved with Archway’s Youth Project
One way that people can help locally is to volunteer to ‘be there’ in person for young people experiencing loneliness at Archway’s Young Adults Project in Oxford and Abingdon. The project is low key and youth led, it is a safe, lighthearted place of companionship where young adults can have a laugh or just to be with others face to face ‘in the real world’.
*quoted by the “Loneliness Connects” us report