By Andy Mortimer, Communications Manager, Co-op Foundation

Earlier this week, Rebecca Birkbeck shared how the Co-op Foundation is being supported by the new Community Partnerships Fund to help communities come together to improve wellbeing.

The fund – which has been set up with the extra money from members – aims to improve access to food, mental wellbeing support and education and employment opportunities for young people in the communities where it’s most needed.

Over two thirds of young people (68%) reported that their mental health got worse in lockdown. So, I’m really excited to announce that year two of our Lonely Not Alone campaign to tackle the stigma of youth loneliness launches today.

Lonely Not Alone is created by young people, for young people. The campaign asks us all to wear yellow socks to show young people everywhere that they might be lonely, but they’re not alone.

This year there’s an added twist because our young co-designers would also like everyone to post a special yellow socks ‘outfit of the day’ to social media so we can have a bit of fun in the process (and reach even more people online).

It doesn’t need to be arty. It doesn’t need to be high fashion. It just needs to include #OOTDYellowSocks.

Why yellow socks?

Young people created the Lonely Not Alone campaign in 2019 to help their friends and peers who feel lonely. It was informed by our research that showed that only 26% of young people feel confident talking about loneliness and even fewer (23%) think society treats it seriously.

I was lucky enough to be there when our co-designers first told us why yellow socks mattered. They said:

We think loneliness is our fault. But it isn’t. 

We think loneliness will last forever. But it won’t. 

It’s hard being lonely, but we’re in this together.

Yellow socks are our symbol of solidarity.

When we’re lonely, we keep our heads down because we don’t want to look people in the eye. But if we see you’re wearing yellow socks, we’ll know you care.

Get involved

Young people are lonely more than any other age group and all the latest research we’re seeing during the coronavirus crisis indicates this isn’t changing. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation recently found that young people are affected by loneliness in lockdown more than any other age group.

Getting involved in Lonely Not Alone is one way you can help. Here are a few things everyone can do between now and the end of October:

  • Find some yellow socks and post your yellow sock ‘outfit of the day’ on social media to show you care using #OOTDYellowSocks. You can also use our animated stickers and gifs if you’re sharing content on Instagram or Facebook stories. Just search ‘LonelyNotAlone’ in the app
  • Share, like or retweet posts from Lonely Not Alone on Twitter or Instagram
  • Spread the word about the campaign even further – and be in with the chance of winning exclusive prizes – by sharing content through Social Hub
  • Tell your friends, partners and local businesses. The more people who get involved, the better

We hope you can support our Lonely Not Alone campaign. I’ve watched our young creatives build it from scratch and I’ve seen such positive changes to their levels of skills and confidence. I hope the work they’ve done can help others, too.