Enabling peer support across the life course.

Do you have a family member or friend who has just got their GCSE or A level exam results? Are they considering further studies? Do you remember exam results day and leaving school?

We’ve understood for a while now that loneliness is experienced across all ages and is not just something faced in later life.loneliness and young people

There’s increasing research into how life transitions can trigger loneliness. Leaving home can be a major life transition. Childhood to adulthood. Additional pressures, perhaps triggering loneliness?

Last month was the fifth birthday party for the Campaign to End Loneliness. It was hosted by Andrew Barnett, Director, UK branch of the Caloustie Gulbenkian Foundation (CBF) who used the opportunity to launch CBF’s report on Loneliness Through The Life Course headlined as “a call to action to look at loneliness in the round, at different transitions and across the lifecycle.

For some, adulthood arrives full of possibilities, but, whilst their peers may be pursuing studies further afield (and making new friends away from home), others can be left feeling lonely. Now we’ve found that student life can be a lonely experience too.

Last year we carried out peer research on younger people and loneliness. What our UCL peer researchers unearthed for us was perhaps contrary to what you might think: 62% of those 18-24 year olds interviewed ‘experienced loneliness some or all of the time’.

We specialise in telecoms enabled peer support – helping organisations to use teleconferencing for social benefit. Our Talking Communities projects enable peer support, in groups, via the telephone. It’s a simple offer. It brings people together over the phone. It works. We can measure how participants’ wellbeing increases as they gain from participating in our groups. It’s different from one to one befriending – the peer support approach we use with Talking Communities means that people help people, in groups, over the phone. It works because what happens in the groups isn’t controlled by us but by the participants themselves.

Perhaps surprisingly, research can show little difference in the proportion younger and older people who feel lonely “some of the time” or “all of the time”.

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If you have a family member or friend who has just had their GCSE or A level results let’s hope they enable them to pursue their life goals, free from loneliness whilst gaining robust friendships that sustain, irrespective of their life transitions ahead.

Meantime, if you know of or work at an organisation that wants to help combat loneliness, create togetherness and enable peer support via teleconferencing, please get in touch.  We train staff and volunteers to facilitate peer support via the phone. We are supporting organisations to set up peer support projects and to train their own trainers. We are keen to meet with organisations involving younger people who want to develop Talking Communities.

Do get in touch if you’d like to hear more about our approach and our offer. As the saying goes, it’s good to talk.

Robert Edmonds, CEO