Loneliness Connects Us – A youth co-researcher reflects

My involvement with the Loneliness Project stemmed from joining 42nd Street as a Peer Ambassador, in July 2017, halfway where the team had started the write-up of their findings and were beginning to develop the story for the immersive theatre production, Missing.

Fast forward to a year later, to July 2018, me and the team received the pleasant news we had been nominated for the ‘Most Inspiring Campaign’ at the Spirit of Manchester Awards ceremony to be held in October. Consequently, this would fall within the same week that I would be asked by the BBC to speak on Radio 5 regarding the experiences of youth loneliness and how youth are able (or not able) to support themselves.

I arrived at Media City just in time for my appearance on the show, as it was my first time in the studio, I was not aware one had to wear headphones. At precisely 8.04am, the producer was showing with her hands, what I was to do.

As soon as i wore the headphones, the question was posed from a producer in the room adjacent to me. He shouted;

I spoke to a man earlier who said loneliness meant he stayed at home and didn’t leave, is this something you can relate to?

Though this is the image perceived in one’s mind, in fact, I enjoy my time at home. I expressed to the radio presenter that loneliness for young people, exhibits during school hours, during holiday season, and surrounded by family and friends. The research is truly vital for voicing this issue in our society as young people are the future. There needs to be more initiatives to encourage young people to speak up about their feelings of loneliness, to encourage social media detoxes and to develop community work.

BBC Radio 5 Live link (Monday 1st October 2018, 8 am) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000jbd

I left the Studios feeling slightly sad, my feelings stemmed from the reality that, though I was able to contribute to this amazing research, there are still many young people who do not have access to community spaces for young people such as there are for me and many others in major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, London.

Anyways, I was on the way to work and around 11am, I recieved a call from James from 42nd Street, who said that there’s a journalist who wants to speak to you about the research, it will be aired at 12.45 pm that day on Newsbeat. The journalist, Gurvinder, had stated that this would be pre-recorded and she asked me questions, similar to the morning interview around my personal experiences of loneliness. Again, I was not sure if what I was saying made any sense, but I had simply expressed that young people need not be afraid of being alone. It is a chance to invest in yourself. I started to learn German during a summer, between my A-Levels.

BBC Newsbeat (Monday 1st October 2018, 12.45pm) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000j6l 

The project is immensely important to me, and I am grateful to hear that the BBC had commissioned their own research and found that levels of loneliness are higher in younger people with 40% feeling lonely, compared with only 27% of over 75s.

The survey results indicate that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.

Over 55,000 people aged 16 years and over took part in the survey exploring attitudes and personal experiences of loneliness, making it the biggest survey of its kind. The survey was developed by academics at the University of Manchester, Brunel University London, and the University of Exeter, and supported by a grant from Wellcome.

Noor

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