We're delighted to have a guest blog from Marmalade Trust supporter and Year 9 student, Radha, about a loneliness project she undertook during the pandemic. We were absolutely blown away by her research, with over 300 people from 19 countries sharing their thoughts on loneliness!
My name is Radha, I am in Year 9 and live in London. This year I participated in the Socrates Programme at my school. This programme provides an opportunity for students to do a project in any area of their interest.
For my project, I decided to focus on loneliness. This was because, during the pandemic, loneliness was a frequent topic of discussion in the media and something that we talked about at home.
The aim of my project was to understand the impact of loneliness particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown and to think of potential solutions.
One of the challenges I faced was finding data on loneliness. There have not been a huge number of studies on loneliness in the UK. With the help of my teacher, I created a questionnaire using Microsoft Forms.
I contacted fellow pupils, teachers, friends and family across the world. I made the form completely anonymous so that people could be honest with their answers.
I was hoping to get around 50 responses, but I ended up getting 324. I absolutely could not believe this and was thrilled.
Many people who completed the form, also emailed saying that they would be really interested in seeing the outcome of my questionnaire. This really motivated me because it meant that loneliness was something that mattered to people.
The majority of respondents were from the UK but I had responses from 19 countries. People of all ages participated. There were 5 responses from children under 10 years of age and 12 responses from people older than 70 years.
The majority of people said that they sometimes feel lonely. Only a small number of people said that they never feel lonely. Overall more people said either ‘Yes, Often or Sometimes’.
People felt more lonely during the pandemic. This was something I was expecting as many have not been able to see family or friends.
Calling family members or friends was by far the most popular means of managing loneliness in my survey. Some people commented that because of the pandemic they actually saw their family and friends more than previously, through platforms like Zoom.
My favourite part was reading the responses to the last question – ‘Describe loneliness in your own words’. The responses were really humbling. I felt incredibly moved and so very grateful to everyone who had taken the time to write such personal feelings openly and honestly. The questionnaire also showed me that a lot of people I know sometimes feel lonely, but may just keep it inside them.
Reading people’s responses also highlighted to me that there is no one definition of loneliness. Loneliness is different for everyone. I strongly feel we all have a role to play in raising awareness of loneliness.
I thought of this mnemonic to tackle loneliness at school.
A - Alert. Students and teachers have to be alert that they could be feeling lonely or others around them could be lonely.
L - Learn. We have to learn the facts about loneliness as there are a lot of myths about it.
E - Empower. Everyone should feel able to tell someone that they feel lonely. Also, we should all feel empowered to help students who feel lonely.
R - Reach out. Students should be able to reach out to people for help if they are feeling lonely. Also, we should all try and reach out to someone who may be feeling lonely.
T - Teamwork. This is how we can manage loneliness.
At Marmalade Trust, we’re all about encouraging open, honest conversations about loneliness, and empowering everyone to build on their understanding. We think Radha has done an absolutely fantastic job at doing just that. Go Radha! 😃