For more than five years, Co-op’s charity, the Co-op Foundation, has been funding work to tackle youth loneliness. Research out today shows why this matters for young people’s mental wellbeing.
We spoke to 2,001 10 to 25-year-olds for our One Small Step report. In addition to finding a concerning 25% increase in the numbers of young people who feel lonely often or always, we also learned that 85% of this group said loneliness negatively impacted on their mental wellbeing while seven in 10 (70%) said it made them less able to perform well in school or work.
Improving these statistics will be key if we want young people to benefit from everything that’s possible in Co-op’s exciting vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World.
I believe co-operative values will be important and we at the Foundation look forward to working in partnership with Co-op, other funders and young people to make this a reality.
One Small Step is the Co-op Foundation’s latest research into youth loneliness. Our key findings show that:
- There are 1.9m chronically lonely young people in the UK who feel lonely often or always – an increase of almost 400,000 from August 2020.
- Young people who have ever had free school meals are twice as likely to be chronically lonely compared to those who haven’t (20% compared to 10%)
- Three quarters of all lonely young people say loneliness makes them feel more anxious or worried about things
- Half of all lonely young people (50%) say loneliness makes them less likely to want to help out in their local community
- Lonely young people want to help others – 61% say feeling lonely has made them want to help others who may be lonely, too
Supporting mental wellbeing is a big part of Co-op’s vision, Co-operating for a Fairer World, alongside access to food and education and employment for young people. Understanding the impact that loneliness has on these three missions will support our future response.
One Small Step follows the Co-op’s ‘Shadow on a young generation’ report that found children as young as 10 feel permanently disadvantaged by pandemic.
I’m proud to be CEO of a charity that has done so much with our partners to tackle youth loneliness. We’ve awarded £6.5m in grants UK-wide and helped to build networks and resources to support youth workers.
One Small Step shows us there is more to do to build a kinder society where young people can talk about issues like loneliness and where they don’t feel fear asking for help.
As a funder with a co-operative difference, we feel well placed to help deliver on this and to empower young people to take the lead. But we’re stronger when we work together and Co-op members can help us too.
Our next step will happen on 14 October when we launch year three of our Lonely Not Alone campaign to tackle the stigma of youth loneliness. We’re encouraging young people to share the small steps they’ve taken to beat loneliness and you can find out how to help by subscribing to our campaign newsletter. We hope to see you on the 14th.
Nick Crofts Co-op Foundation CEO