Lonely Not Alone: Co-op Foundation’s campaign to tackle youth loneliness

Nick Crofts

Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO, shares some information about the Lonely Not Alone campaign which is aimed at tackling youth loneliness.

Lonely Not Alone – how it evolved

We first launched in 2019 inspired by our research that found 80% of 16 to 25-year-olds said concerns over how people would react stopped them talking about loneliness. Nine young designers worked in true collaboration with our creative partner, Effervescent, to co-produce a beautiful and truthful Lonely Not Alone campaign. Their plan was to use yellow socks as a show of solidarity and, since then, millions of people UK-wide have seen our work and tens of thousands have showed that they care, including youth groups, universities, ministers and even the Prime Minister.

This April, a new cohort of 14 young people were tasked to come up with 2021 campaign ideas, focussing on two audiences:  

  • (1) young people who feel lonely, and
    (2) young people who have less experience of loneliness and who our research shows are less likely to help others. 

We’re focusing on 16 to 25-year-olds, too, because transitions, like moving schools and starting work, can raise instances of loneliness.

Lonely Not Alone 2021. One small step to help yourself and others

Core to Lonely Not Alone this year will be providing an offer for young people to ‘connect’ with each other and share their experiences. We hope this will not only help to tackle the stigma young people feel but, in line with our recently created five-year Theory of Change, also build empathy and understanding.

Together we’ll shine a light on potential ways out of loneliness. The campaign will launch this Autumn and you can find out first how to get involved by signing up to our campaign newsletter. You can also follow the team on Twitter and Instagram.

Long term impact

We know impact in this space will take a long time. That’s why after the ‘connect’ phase of the campaign, our focus will shift and we will encourage people to ‘act’ and help others. From here, we’ll look at the social action young people can take part in to make a deeper impact in their communities.

Working with young people has taught us lots about how youth loneliness – and the stigma associated with it – can be tackled. It’s made us better understand the real-life experience of young people and, we hope, make better campaigns. I’m delighted that it’s also made an impact on the young people we’ve directly involved:

“This has given me the hope of doing something positive, meeting new people who I immediately felt a connection with, and creating something incredible. It’s the first piece of excitement and happiness in a long while, and I found myself so inspired by everyone and everything we were doing” – Josie, 20, 2019, Lonely Not Alone co-designer.

Thank you to everyone who’s been involved in Lonely Not Alone so far. I hope you’ll join us this year, too.

Subscribe, follow, show you care. Much more to follow soon.


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  1. Thanks for sharing this update on the campaign – it will be really interesting to see how this comes together in the autumn. I’ve signed up to the mailing list to make sure I don’t miss anything! 

    1. Thanks Robin. Our young co-designers have come up with a really honest and emotive campaign activation. I’ll share more once I’ve got all my ducks in a row

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