Winter is no less lonely than any other time of year…

But why does it make us feel lonelier?

Perhaps it’s the dark evenings, perhaps it’s when the Christmas adverts start, perhaps it’s when everyone else seems to start getting party invites… 

The fact is that more young people than ever feel lonely. A recent survey by the BBC suggests that 40% of 16-24 year olds would say they feel lonely. 

Young people check their social media pretty often, and to them, it can look like everyone else is having an amazing. Pictures of people with friends at a party, on holiday with their family, chilling with friends that they don’t know, checking into the cinema with their girlfriend or boyfriend… no one ever looks like they're lonely.

The reality is far from it – as adults, we know that some people have many acquaintances to make it look like they aren’t lonely. They fill their lives with people who aren’t really friends and people they possibly don’t even trust much because they want to block out that feeling of loneliness.

Some people struggle to make friends and their online friends are the ones they talk to most because they can ‘pretend’ to be something they aren’t… but then end up feeling lonelier.

The common factor in the increase of loneliness in young people, is the rise in social media use because it doesn’t often create deep, meaningful friendships that are based on trust and shared lives. Ironically social media makes them feel lonelier, not less lonely.

So, let's look at some of the ways you could encourage a young person to help combat feeling lonely: 

1️⃣ Suggest they reduce their social media time.

2️⃣ Help them to create connections with people face to face.

3️⃣ Coax them to join a group or start a hobby – fitness, craft, music?

4️⃣ Get them to arrange to eat with their family at mealtimes.

5️⃣ Encourage them to say ‘yes’ to trying something new.

6️⃣ Discuss with them about the idea of connecting with their cousins, siblings, grandparents and wider family more.

There are lots of Organisations out there that offer opportunities to join groups or clubs in order to connect with other young people your own age. Do some research in your local area to find out what's going on and what the young person might like to get involved with.

If cooking's their bag - here at Youthscape, we offer something called Open House, which is a cookery project run by Gemma, our Drop-in Manager, and a professional chef! Over the eight weeks of the course they will learn to cook different dishes, improve their kitchen skills, and host a dinner for a disadvantaged group from the local community...

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The aim of the project is to develop confidence in abilities, build relationships, integrate into our daily after-school Drop-in project, engage with a different group in the community, and through this become more connected, improve self-esteem, and begin to gain the skills that will enable young people to recognise and manage their feelings of loneliness and social isolation now and in the future. 

If you work with young people aged 11-15 living in Luton, get in touch with Gemma to find out more about our Open House project.

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