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Loneliness is often associated with the elderly. However, we know loneliness affects people of all ages.
Research shows that nearly half of older people (age 65+) say that television or pets are their main form of company.
Research carried out by the British Red Cross found that 32% of young people (16-24 year olds) reported that they had often or always felt lonely in the previous two weeks.
It is possible to be alone and not feel lonely. Some people who live on their own or in remote places may not feel lonely. However, it is also possible that people can feel lonely while not being alone - research shows that older people in large households and care homes are more likely to report loneliness. To put it another way, “…an individual may be lonely in a crowd, socially contented while alone”.
Discuss with your team what you think about loneliness. How do you know if someone is lonely? Are there particular groups of people that are more vulnerable to experiencing feelings of loneliness than others?
Research the topic:
Identify reasons why people might feel lonely, note down all the reasons you can think of. Below are some questions to help you get started:
- Is technology playing a part in making people feel lonelier?
- Is there a lack of connection across different age groups?
- Are there less community spaces that people can use to come together than there used to be?
What other examples can you find?
Try to find answers to your research questions by speaking to people that buy food for their families or for an organisation. You could try speaking to people that sell both cooked and uncooked food. You could also try to speak with people that work in hospitals or GP surgeries. Discuss your findings with your group!
Design the solution
Design a product, campaign or service that you think will help address the challenge you have identified.
Examples could include:
- A product: could you build a ‘buddy bench’ that you sit on to let people know you’re looking for someone to speak to?
- A campaign: would a campaign that highlights the different services, community groups or activities in your area be effective in reaching people that are already feeling lonely or isolated?
- A service: could you sign people up to a service that encourages them to give their time as befrienders and connect them to those in need?
For further research you might want to look through what big charities like the Red Cross are doing to tackle loneliness or look at existing campaigns to end loneliness, and talk about these with your teachers, your friends and family.