Grassroots youth group tackles young people’s loneliness through pop-up clubs

“Pop-up” youth clubs in places where young people tend to congregate will help develop their confidence, resilience and understanding of loneliness.

Pop-up youth clubs create a safe environment for young people to move from feeling lonely to feeling connected
Pop-up youth clubs create a safe environment for young people to move from feeling lonely to feeling connected
  • Name Tackling youth loneliness
  • Provider Ourside Youth Association

Loneliness is often thought of as an issue for adults, but research has shown that some children and young people also feel lonely. Some feel there are very few places in communities where they can go and meet other young people, while others may lack the confidence to go to a youth club.

To help address this, Ourside Youth Association has set up “pop-up” youth clubs to provide a venue for young people to meet, discuss their feelings and help develop activities that build their resilience.

Ourside was founded for young people, by young people, who shared a deep understanding of the importance of having a reliable place to go, where there would be someone trustworthy to talk to. It strives to empower young people to make a positive contribution to their community, and focus on building self-esteem, self-awareness, self-efficacy, life skills and autonomy; resulting in a healthy sense of identity.

The individuals Ourside works with view “loneliness” differently, so it is integral that an environment is created where there is a shared understanding of what it means, how the experience can differ between people and all in a setting where they feel comfortable to discuss it.

The pop-up youth clubs were developed in an effort to ease any anxiety that may arise when visiting the youth centre for the first time. There, young people can get a “snapshot” experience and also meet the support staff.

Through exploring the issues of youth loneliness and implementing new interventions, Ourside hopes that young people will:

  • Be able to define youth loneliness
  • Understand the impact that youth loneliness may have on them and their peers
  • Feel they have the ability to form positive social relationships
  • Become more “digital savvy” and adept at navigating social relationships online
  • Be more aware of feelings of loneliness and the contributors

The “pop-ups” have created a safe environment for certain young people to move from a place of feeling lonely, to feeling connected. They have also become more confident and comfortable within the weekly sessions – the team feel that they have a much greater insight into what “loneliness” means and how diversely it can manifest itself. This has enabled the youth workers to develop specific projects, activities and targeted work.

A number of young people attending the pop-ups at schools have also begun regular attendance at the youth centre’s open access sessions. The sessions have attracted new young people, as well as retaining existing members.

Launched in December 2018, the pop-up project is funded for three years thanks to receiving a share of the £2m youth-strand of the Building Connections Fund, a partnership between the Co-op Foundation and the government.

Young people are at the forefront of the development of everything Ourside does. The Young People’s Committee meets weekly and serve as an integral link between the individuals who attend the youth work sessions and the staff and board of trustees. The committee has always been a fundamental part of Ourside.


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