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Thousands of Co-op Members have joined in to help the Co-op Foundation understand more about loneliness.
In November, the Foundation asked members to tell us more about the impact coronavirus restrictions have had on their and their loved ones’ experience of loneliness. More than 18,000 of you got involved.
An overwhelming majority thought social distancing measures had impacted peoples’ feeling of loneliness, with 66% indicating they’d been affected personally. Just 2% said they felt less lonely.
Women were more likely to be feeling lonely than men, while young people feel lonely more often than any other age group. In fact, a staggering 80% of those aged under 25 told us they’ve been feeling more isolated since the pandemic began.
Over the past four years, Co-op Foundation has helped thousands of young people tackle loneliness, primarily by awarding £6.5m of grants to youth projects UK-wide. Our Lonely, Not Alone campaign is designed to build on this, by helping young people overcome the stigma many of them feel when talking about the issue.
We asked members to give us their feedback on our 2020 Lonely Not Alone campaign and to share their views on a short video made by the young people who created the campaign. The video explains why they wanted everyone to wear yellow socks to show they care about youth loneliness.
Around 13% of members were already aware of our Lonely Not Alone campaign with the majority having spoken to friends and family about us or loneliness in general, or donned yellow socks to show their support. Almost a third had shared content online, too, with many also sharing their yellow socks Outfit of the Day on social media.
“Team photo at work wearing yellow socks posted on our social media sites.”Rachel Stead, Faversham
“I work in a store where I encouraged all colleagues to wear yellow socks and talk to customers about the campaign.”Catherine Sargent, Southend-On-Sea
“Shared messages of love, friendship and encouragement on social media.”Javin Mateos, Fife
Members had mixed emotions about how the campaign made them feel. Some said they felt positive, hopeful, acknowledged and supported, others felt sad, and a few were still unsure of the meaning behind the campaign.
“That I want to buy yellow socks to show solidarity.”Karen Bruin, York
“I felt quite triggered as I’m incredibly lonely, as a young person but also felt supported by the wearing the colour yellow and will definitely be sharing this with my loved ones.”Carina Gonzalez-Brown, Brighton
“I still don’t really understand the purpose of wearing socks, and how this can help people?”Matthew Evans, Leyland
Describing it as honest and quirky, members liked the simple and effective idea of the campaign. The use of real people made it easy for members to relate to, with many praising its inclusivity. Members – particularly those aged under 25 – said they would share the video on social media and encourage others to get involved in the campaign. Many thought it may help young people to start a conversation too.
“A simple, yet fun way to let anyone, not just the young, know that they are not alone in feeling lonely.”Liz Dixon, Cumbria
“That a simple thing like a pair of socks can bring people together.”Angela Leathley, Leeds
“Watching the video alone, made things seem brighter.”Sharon Scott, Donaghadee
From increasing awareness through advertising, producing resources and suggesting practical ways to help locally, members have given us some great ideas on how we can work with our young co-designers improve Lonely Not Alone this year.
“I would like to see an extension to the yellow socks idea. Yellow scarves, hairband, bracelet, bag charm or badge to indicate ‘I acknowledge loneliness’, ‘I’m lonely, I’d appreciate a friendly word’ or ‘you can speak to me.’Janet Lees, Bradford
“Making it easier for people without access to computers, social media know about the campaign. Could you advertise it on TV?”Lorna Maclean, Ayr
A huge thank you to Co-op Members for getting involved. The findings have shown that if restrictions allow in 2021, we should aim to add ‘ways to get involved’ that are more than digital-only, continue to be as inclusive as possible in the things we create and use real stories in our work. Keep up to date with everything we’re up to by following us on Twitter.
If you have yellow socks you can keep showing you care, too, by wearing them out and about. Every time you do, you’re showing that youth loneliness matters. You can also keep up to date with the Co-op Foundation by subscribing to our blog.
Throughout the past 12 months, Co-op has been regularly checking in with its members and looking for ways to support their wellbeing during the restrictions. To help members stay connected, we’ve hosted many online events – including quizzes, wine and group get-togethers – and we’ll be doing more of the same this year too. Head to your member account to see what opportunities you can get involved in now.