What is loneliness?

Time

60 mins

Target

Suitable for 14+

Participant

8 -12 Participants

Delivery

Face2Face & Virtually

AIMS

To give participants an introduction to the concept of (youth) loneliness and identify and articulate what loneliness means to them. 

OUTCOMES

By the end of this activity participants will be able to:

  • Define what loneliness means 
  • Compare the difference between loneliness and aloneness 

FACILITATOR NOTES

ICE BREAKER

We recommend using - ‘Describe you’ 

What is loneliness?

Part 1

What is loneliness

In this activity, participants are asked to access a room that can accommodate movement. Activity sheet 1 and 2 to be given out to each participant and is a useful prompt to consider whether they would like to work on their own or in smaller groups.

Before the activity begins

The facilitator will ask each breakout group to nominate a participant to feedback their groups discussion/thoughts (or the whole group can do it as a collective.) The facilitator will give each breakout group, in turn, an opportunity to inform the whole group what they have thought about and explain that they should aim to provide 3 ideas to the main group (these can be put on to Post-it notes or written directly onto the flipchart paper).

Break out groups

The facilitator to split participants into smaller breakout groups ideally with 2-3 participants in each breakout group (according to group size). Hand out flipchart paper, Post-it notes and pens to each group. Place the images from resource 3 on each table or on the wall in the room, where all groups can see them clearly. Facilitators may want to consider magnifying the images to A3.

Discussion questions

Ask one participant in each group (that is willing to scribe) to write “WHAT IS LONELINESS?” in the middle of the flip chart paper. Allocate approximately 15-minutes for participants to discuss in their breakout group and address the question ‘what is loneliness?’. The discussion can also be captured by creative methods (e.g., drawing/doodles of reasons, identifiers, and location if participants are more comfortable using these).

Support for the discussion

These could be reasons for loneliness, identifiers of loneliness, words, phrases (on facilitator notes) or even drawings of locations or people (available on resource sheet 3).

Feedback

During the feedback, each group member should take turns in writing or designate someone to write on the flip chart paper (this can also be the facilitator, if required). The facilitator asks the participants whether they agree with the statements/drawings on the flip chart paper and if they would add anything more to it or change anything.

Offer definition

Facilitator then offers a definition of loneliness (p12 of resources)

Part 2

Ask the group

The facilitator asks the whole group to come together around the flip chart paper in a semi-circle and asks the group: "What does it mean to be alone?". The facilitator reads the Sam Woofle Poem Aloneness vs Loneliness - a poem by Simba8 - All Poetry by Simba8 (Activity Sheet 2 / presentation).

The facilitator will ask the following questions as a discussion:

What are the positives of being along? Support for the faciliator on positives - being alone is not always a bad thing: Solitude - walking in the wilderness or traveling Being creative - our best idea without criticism Thinking time - leaving our brain to recharge Privacy - having time to ourselves Stillness - being calm What are the negative of being alone? Support for the facilitator on negatives: Becoming overly inner critical – self –criticism. Spending too much time on your own can lead to changes in the brain, and potentially impacts the immune system as a potential result of loneliness (The neurobiology of social distance: Why loneliness may be the biggest threat to survival and longevity, June 2020.) Sometimes we need to be with other people. (Cacioppo and Patrick, 2008)

Part 3 - Videos on aloneness and loneliness

Handout

The facilitator hands our activity sheet 2 and informs participants that they will have 12 minutes to do this activity.  The facilitator will show tow YouTube videos to the whole group or, if more appropriate, participants can scan the QR codes on activity sheet

Videos on aloneness and loneliness

The facilitator informs participants that they will have 12 minutes to do this activity. The facilitator to look at two YouTube videos as a whole group

Positive exploration of aloneness

What is Loneliness? - YouTube from headspace app. (Time from start to 1.01 minutes) description of video? And perhaps some points from the video to think about. (Please note: the video contains adverts).

If you are lonely, you are not alone

If you're lonely, you are not alone - from Brightside. (Time: from start to 9.12 minutes) description of video? And perhaps some points from the video to think about. (Please note: the video contains adverts).

What does loneliness look like? - Step 2

Part 1

Introduction

The facilitator introduces the second part of the session. This will explore what loneliness looks like and consider who might be experiencing feeling lonely. Participants are now to focus on the wider effects/issues of loneliness in their community.

Hand out

The facilitator hands out to each participant the ‘what does loneliness look like?’ (Resource activity sheet 2 and have available resource sheet 3)

Lonely in our communities

This activity will be looking at who is lonely in our communities, so can include other people - not just young people. As we want to get the participants to think about loneliness as an issue across all groups in society.

Break out groups

The facilitator puts participants back into breakout groups and hands out flipchart paper, Post-it notes, and pens to each breakout group. These can be the same breakout groups as in step 1.

Youth Achievement Awards

To complement this, provide activity sheet 2 and have available resource sheet 3, as a prompt. Participants completing a YAA (Youth Achievement Awards), or 'participant journal' will need to be aware that their activity sheet 2 will need to be kept so they need to put their name on

Who, Why and When?

The facilitator asks the participants to split the paper into sections: WHO, WHY and WHEN? Then the facilitator provides an example to the participants:

Who? older person, young person

When or where? around holidays, alone at home

Why? families may not see them, bereavement

The Community

The facilitator asks participants in their breakout groups to think about others in their community and then complete each section on the flip chart with their thoughts and ideas on - WHO would be lonely? WHEN or WHERE might they be lonely? WHY would this group be lonely? After these answers and ideas have been captured, the facilitator takes the top 3 who? Statements from all the groups and be written on a flip chart paper. Then as in the example matches the corresponding answers for when or where and why? he facilitator asks participants to go back into groups their breakout groups to use the activity sheet 2 to capture the answers of individual groups (e.g., participants who are leaving home/ care, older people living in a care home, young parents, people living in rural areas, etc). Each participant should have an example of 3 people within their community written.

Part 2

Discussion

The facilitator then has a final discussion with the whole group on how many different members of our communities can feel lonely and that it is not an issue exclusive to any type or group of people. This will be added to a flip chart with each group outlined like the example in step 2 (part 1).

The facilitator could comment here:

Follow on with examples of anyone in our community can be lonely and that they may experience loneliness differently to others. One last point to add is that it is normal to feel lonely at times. It is where loneliness starts to affect the mental health or developing new relationships here further problems can develop.

It may be appropriate to inform participants:

Loneliness can potentially be a sign of something needing to be addressed and/or changed in their lives.

Videos on aloneness and loneliness

The facilitator informs participants that they will have 12 minutes to do this activity. The facilitator to look at two YouTube videos as a whole group

Positive exploration of aloneness

What is Loneliness? - YouTube from headspace app. (Time from start to 1.01 minutes) description of video? And perhaps some points from the video to think about. (Please note: the video contains adverts).

If you are lonely, you are not alone

If you're lonely, you are not alone - from Brightside. (Time: from start to 9.12 minutes) description of video? And perhaps some points from the video to think about. (Please note: the video contains adverts).

Rethinking and finisher - Step 3

Part 1

What can we do to help?

The facilitator informs the participants of step 3, part 1: now, it is time to look at strategies we can use to reduce loneliness. These can be as creative as the participants can think of and, therefore, could be activities or actions to develop in the future for the facilitator to expand and explore with the whole group.

Ideas could include:

  • Meet neighbours.
  • Send cards/a letter/call/email to family members and friends.
  • Send a 30 second video to someone with a positive message.
  • Meet with older people and hear their stories.
  • Organising a tea dance to do an intergenerational social action to meet others in your community.
  • Creating an online group for young people or Instagram story, TikTok clips to motivate others to share their experiences.

Note:

Youth Cymru have created a social action resource pack that may be useful if young people are wanting to engage in social or community action – not required for this session, but is available for you to use.

Additional points

Once most of the points from the breakout groups have been considered, the facilitator then asks the whole group if there as any additional points they would like to add.

Part 2

Has this session achieved the intended outcomes?

The facilitator refers to the learning outcome(s) for this session. Do participants all agree on the outcomes have been met? The facilitator can ‘test’ that learning outcomes have been met by a ‘pop’ quiz with prizes, etc.

Three questions to ask participants to reflect on:

  • What is loneliness?
  • What is the difference between loneliness and aloneness?
  • What can we do to help our communities to support loneliness?

Notes

For evidence for a Youth Achievement Award, facilitators should record this feedback and observe participants giving suggestions/answers.

Endings:

Facilitator(s) thank participants for their contributions and give a brief introduction to the next session, so participants know what to expect/give them something to look forward to. Facilitator to invite any last questions from the group and remind them that there is a range of information and guidance support available to them (see posters) and urge them to seek any further support from them, their youth workers, teachers, parents, their GP, etc.

Positive exploration of aloneness

What is Loneliness? - YouTube from headspace app. (Time from start to 1.01 minutes) description of video? And perhaps some points from the video to think about. (Please note: the video contains adverts).

If you are lonely, you are not alone

If you're lonely, you are not alone - from Brightside. (Time: from start to 9.12 minutes) description of video? And perhaps some points from the video to think about. (Please note: the video contains adverts).

Evaluation

Blurb on evaluation 

Resources

Please feel free to download the activity resources. All documents are editable and can be adapted for your bespoke session.