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One small step is a giant leap forward for lonely young people

14 October 2021

By Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO 

I am immensely proud today to announce the launch of year three of our Lonely Not Alone campaign to tackle the stigma of youth loneliness. 

Lonely Not Alone is a campaign rooted in co-operative values. These run through from the young volunteers who build our campaign to the local community partners who promote our work and the brilliant Co-op colleagues, customers and Member Pioneers who spread the word in communities. 

Thank you all for getting involved today and into the next few weeks. We want young people to feel confident talking about loneliness so they can build more trusting relationships and improve their mental wellbeing in line with Co-op’s vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World. Your involvement will help to make that a reality. 

Not seen our campaign yet? Visit Lonely Not Alone for an experience that’s out of this world and download our social media assets to join in the conversation at #LonelyNotAlone on Twitter and Instagram.

Tackling youth loneliness matters 

I joined the Co-op Foundation in January and it has, at times, been a shocking eye opener into youth loneliness, and its impacts on young people. Our research shows that: 

  • 71% of 10 to 25-year-olds are lonely at least occasionally while 15% are chronically lonely – that’s 1.9m young people who are lonely often or always. 
  • 400,000 more young people are chronically lonely than a year ago 
  • 85% of chronically lonely young people say loneliness negatively impacts on their mental wellbeing

And that’s why our funding, support for youth workers and Lonely Not Alone campaign is so important.  

Supporting mental wellbeing is a key element of the Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’ alongside access to food and opportunities for young people. We’re proud that our Lonely Not Alone campaign can lift this amazing work even further. 

Lonely Not Alone 2021 

We first launched Lonely Not Alone in 2019. Back then we focused on building a kinder society and we asked everyone to wear yellow socks in solidarity with lonely young people. 

This year’s campaign is a step change as we encourage 10 to 25-year-olds to share the one small step they’ve taken to tackle loneliness. This is informed by our Theory of Change that this year focuses on building empathy and understanding about what it’s like to be young and lonely. 

Our young co-designers have set this year’s experience in space. Dark. Cold. Empty. But within space we’re all fierce, shining stars and we’re all connected by shared experiences. 

The idea is beautiful and it reflects everything we’ve heard about loneliness from our partners over the past few years. There is no one reason to be lonely but young people should know there are others out there just like them. 

One small step is a giant leap forward for tackling youth loneliness. 

The universe goes on forever. Loneliness doesn’t have to. 

Get involved 

We hope you can share our Lonely Not Alone experience this month by: 

  • Downloading social media messages and assets from our website and sharing them on your channels 
  • Using our youth work pack and poster to engage young people in our work and support them to get involved. 
  • Sharing our website with young people you know so they can benefit too. 

Our latest stats show that 64% of young people say helping others makes them feel less lonely while 67% say seeing people talk about loneliness would help them to understand other people’s feelings and experiences.  

We hope we make a difference. And we hope you can, too. 

And finally 

Thank you to everyone who’s helped us get here today, including: 

  • Our wonderful young co-designers – Claire, Elorm, Josie, Nathan, Zak, Helen, Noah, Tamar, Maddie, Alima, Finlay, Amina, Reece, and Chloe (all aged 14 to 22) 
  • Our campaign partner Effervescent, whose team has supported our young co-designers create something truly magical 
  • DCMS, who funded our early strategy work and research 
  • Ourside Youth Centre, Youth Focus: North East, MencapBarnardo’s and RSBC, who’ve helped out with everything from accessibility, to safeguarding and youth packs 

You might be lonely, but you’re not alone. 


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