What’s in our control?


60 mins


Suitable for 14+


8 -12 Participants


Face2Face & Virtually


For participants to recognise the differences between things they can and cannot control in relation to loneliness and social isolation. Participants will be able to consider and set meaningful goals to address loneliness.


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

  • Demonstrate the required skills to plan and achieve their set goals
  • Apply a strengths based approach in setting goals.
  • Illustrate the confidence in their own ability to set meaningful personal goals.


Here are some guidance to support the participants


We recommend using - The IF Question 

Part 1: In our control and out of our control

The activity

In this activity, a group of 8-12 participants are asked to access a room and sit in a semicircle. Hand out participant activity sheet 1 to be given out to each participant and is a useful prompt if they would like to work on their own or in smaller groups.

In control and out of control

The facilitator writes ‘circle of control’ as area 1 and ‘out of our control’ as area 2 on a flipchart paper and then shows the - How to manage your worries by the British Red Cross (QR code on this sheet). How to manage your worries | Circles of Control | British Red Cross - YouTube (1.13 minutes long). Inform participants that things that go on in our lives can be a cause for concern - especially if we think that we are unable to change the situation. Resource sheet 1 has signs for controls to support and can allow the session to be delivered in a larger space.


The facilitator will ask their first questions to the participants on what their thoughts are on the video and what is a ‘circle of control’? Prompt the participants to provide examples of ‘what is in our control’ and ‘what is not in our control’. These can be added by the facilitator or encourage a willing participant to come up and write their answer. The facilitator will ask the participants to now consider control factors and how they can affect loneliness and isolation in (young) people.

Support for the discussion

The answers should be captured on the flipchart and be in two areas ‘what is in our control’ (area 1) and ‘what is not in our control’ (area 2). If the participants are struggling examples have been provided in the facilitator notes.

Linking back to loneliness

Loneliness is a temporary state and by understanding what's in our control we can make positive change to reduce loneliness.

Part 2: ‘Circle of control’

Examples to discuss

The facilitator has available for the groups the flipchart (from part 1) on the wall, table or floor to use as a prompt, and a new flipchart sheet, Post-it notes and pens. Ask the participants to use the Post-it notes to capture all of the issues that participants feel are affecting them. Have them to place the Post-it notes on the flipchart paper. Once this is done, the facilitator can pick out a few examples to discuss with the participants in the wider group.

The facilitator will give them the following instructions:  

Ask the participants to start dividing the issues into factors they feel that they can or cannot control. Start moving the sticky notes around as each point is discussed under the headings of 'I can control' and factors 'I cannot control'. Again, the facilitator will review the Post-it notes to explore the statements. Next add in a third area on the flipchart paper titled ‘what I can influence’ (prompts are available in the facilitators handout). The facilitator then asks the participants if there are factors that they feel are ‘out of my control’ (and capture these on Post-it notes) and whether they feel that they can/could influence them. For example, negative friendships/relationships resulting in not going out and feeling lonely – this can be influenced by seeking new friendships and/or by taking up new hobbies/interests.

What if..?

The facilitator provides the ‘what if..?’ scenario to participants. Once complete, explain that everyone’s experience is individual and none of the answers are wrong. This could also be something you establish in your group agreement at the beginning of the session. Next, consider these questions:

Consider these questions:

  • Are there similarities in what participants have identified?
  • What actions could the group take to address loneliness (this conversation could lead to the group beginning to plan social action project to tackle loneliness with their communities)?

These comments should be written down on flipchart, as they are discussed.

Part 3: ‘creating our own circle of control’

Ask participants..

The facilitator now focuses the participants to think about their control circle (using participant activity sheet 1). Ask participants to find a comfortable space within the room to focus on themselves. The facilitator will explain that they are providing around 10 minutes to complete this exercise. The facilitator has an opportunity to move around the space and discuss briefly with each individual participant their control circle (referring to the facilitator notes for guidance).

Part 4: Has this session achieved the intended outcomes?

Learning 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.

Two questions to ask participants to reflect on:

  • How confident do you feel about setting goals?
  • Do you feel that you have gained skills to set future goals through this session?


The people tree can be used prior to the session and then repeated after the session to identify any changes in the participants feeling of where they are after delivery. The tree can also be used after the whole section/project to ask young people to reflect on where they feel were before the project and where they feel that they are now as a result of engaging in the project.


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