We have been really pleased to see a range of political interest in the issue of youth loneliness over the recent months, this blog aims to highlight the progress that has been made in this area, our recent involvement, and what we would like to see happen next!
The Belong Collective
The Belong Collective aims to be a cross sector network, which is focused on connecting practitioners to share learning, challenges, good practice, and new thinking about youth loneliness. The focus of this work is wider than just the youth sector – supporting those who work and engage with young people to consider youth loneliness and embed effective solutions to tackle it. The Collective will improve cross-sector working, influence policy making and also provide support to practitioners – many of whom often feel ‘alone’ when trying to support young people who are lonely. You can find out more about the Belong Collective here.
Youth Loneliness on the agenda
When the Government published the Loneliness Strategy in 2018, references to youth loneliness highlighted the important role of uniformed youth groups, alongside the need to co-produce solutions with young people. The strategy laid out a number of measures to be taken by the Department for Education and Department for Culture, Media and Sport to address youth loneliness. We know that community connection is a vital part of tackling this issue, and it was good to see the introduction of the Know Your Neighbourhood Fund earlier this year, focused on reducing loneliness through volunteering and social connection.
Driving the conversation
We are pleased to have been invited to a number of discussion spaces, and events over the last few months that have helped us really showcase the fantastic work of the Belong Collective, and bring the issue of youth loneliness to the forefront. Our Director of Collective Action, Kayleigh Wainwright, attended a loneliness roundtable hosted by Stuart Andrew MP, the Minister for Loneliness, back in May. We are delighted that youth loneliness as an issue was highlighted as vital to this conversation, and thank the Minister for this engagement in supporting young people facing loneliness. Also in May, our Belong Collective Young Leaders, Molly and Finty, were invited to the APPG on Tackling Loneliness and Connected Communities session on youth loneliness. They represented the Belong Collective and UK Youth so wonderfully, with hugely passionate speeches about the need to address this issue and support young people. You can read more about their experience in this blog.
Addressing the need
Our most recent report, “We Choose To Be Here” outlines a range of recommendations for both policy-makers and those delivering services for youth loneliness to be addressed. We would like to see that young people are empowered as leaders to develop approaches to tackle youth loneliness, ensure specific funding is available for developing inclusive provision across diverse community groups, increase funding for youth work to help tackle loneliness, and we would like to see the development of a cross-sector strategy to promote youth belonging that centres the youth sector as a powerful and key stakeholder.
By next Loneliness Awareness Week it would be great to see a number of these recommendations implemented, or in progress, so that we are able to create the change that is needed to prevent youth loneliness from the outset, and support those facing loneliness as young people.