Young people at risk of loneliness need to be better prepared for transition periods in life

Almost 10% of young people aged between 16 and 24 said they were often lonely, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics released last week.

The report found nearly a third of young women reported ‘hardly or never’ feeling lonely compared to almost half of young men.

Become, a charity that works with children in care and young care leavers, runs a free coaching programme for young people between 16 and 25 who were in care to help them fulfil their potential.

Become chief executive, Natasha Finlayson, said: “The figures might reflect the fact that young men are likely to feel less comfortable about feeling lonely.

What we have found when working with young people in care and leaving care is that there isn’t a gender difference.

The experience of loneliness appears to be common among the majority of young people leaving care.”

The study also found that children living in the city were more prone, with nearly a fifth of children in the city often feeling lonely compared to about 5% of those in towns or rural areas.

The analysis of young people’s views, experience and suggestions to overcome loneliness was done using in-depth interviews.

It found that loneliness could be triggered when leaving secondary school and other transitions during education. Children and young people were sometimes embarrassed about admitting feeling lonely and saw it as a possible failing.

Young people can leave care from the age of 16 but must do so at 18. Local authorities are responsible for finding them accommodation, which is relatively likely to be in an area that they are not from.

They are often placed in accommodation that is not suitable or a hostel which might not be safe. They may have their own council flat but it is often in a new place where they don’t know anyone, a long way from their college and social group.

Ms Finlayson said: “Christmas is a problematic time for young people in care and leaving care for a number of reasons.

Particularly because at Christmas time there are a lot of images portraying a stereotypical, happy family unity.

Most young people who are in care or who have left care have had a very different family life.

Being faced with these images of perfect lives can feel very difficult for them and be a reminder of past problems.”

65% of those who go into care do so because they have experienced neglect or abuse and for the other 35% many will be there because of a family breakdown.

The ONS study discovered that practical, social, emotional or mental barriers that prevented an individual fully participating in social life and activities also contributed to the being lonely.

The ONS suggested that schools and society needed to make it more acceptable to discuss loneliness and prepare young people better to understand and address it.

Related Articles