Farm staff donning yellow socks to raise awareness of youth loneliness

An organic Shropshire farm is pulling up its socks to help out a UK-wide campaign about the stigma of youth loneliness.

The bubble team at Fordhall Organic Farm with their yellow socks. From left are Marie Gibson, Jacob Bottomley (14) and Deren Brown (14), Wendy Murray, Davina Bridge, Nicola Syred, Charlotte Hollins and Nina Elizabeth
The bubble team at Fordhall Organic Farm with their yellow socks. From left are Marie Gibson, Jacob Bottomley (14) and Deren Brown (14), Wendy Murray, Davina Bridge, Nicola Syred, Charlotte Hollins and Nina Elizabeth

Fordhall Organic Farm, just outside Market Drayton, runs a number of community projects as well as initiatives for young people with disabilities.

To support the Lonely Not Alone campaign, staff on key farms projects, such as the youth project; care farm; volunteer sessions and the Afternoon Amble (a free community weekly walk and craft session to tackle isolation); will be jazzing up their outfits with bright yellow socks.

Lonely Not Alone asks everyone to show they care about youth loneliness by wearing yellow socks and sharing their ‘Outfit of the Day’ on social media with #OOTDYellowSocks.

Young people who made the campaign say that yellow socks are their symbol of solidarity when they feel lonely and look to the floor.

Co-op's charity, the Co-op Foundation, has released UK-wide research in support of the campaign that reveals seven in 10 young people (71 per cent) say they are lonely at least occasionally.

Other findings include that 78 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds missed out on life events or celebrations during lockdown, including going on holiday, graduating from university and going to their prom; that less than a quarter of young people (23 per cent) think society takes youth loneliness seriously while only a third (36 per cent) feel confident talking about loneliness; that 27 per cent of young people would be uncomfortable asking for help if they felt lonely while a fifth (19 per cent) said loneliness was something to be embarrassed by.

Despite this, young people want to help friends and peers who feel lonely. 91 per cent would be comfortable taking an action to help others, including more than half (52 per cent) who would take part in a campaign like Lonely Not Alone.

'Even though young people might be lonely, they're not alone'

Fordhall Farm senior youth worker Wendy Murray said: “The youth volunteering days and events we offer here at Fordhall Farm is one way we try and reduce isolation and loneliness that young people may experience in Shropshire.

"We encourage young people to come and socialise with people they have never met as well as learn new skills. Youth loneliness is continually increasing and the current pandemic has stressed this even more.

"The increase in social media and online gaming has led to a rise in physical isolation from peers now more than ever. We believe in encouraging young people to interact face to face with others to generate positive feelings of inclusion and acceptance rather than loneliness and isolation.

"We are proud to support this initiative and hope many others will join us."

Lonely Not Alone is funded by the Co-op Foundation, which has already awarded more than £6.5m to projects UK-wide and helping to develop networks and resources to support youth workers long term.

Co-op Foundation chair Jamie Ward-Smith said: “Lonely Not Alone is an important part of our long-term commitment to helping young people beat loneliness.

"Working through a period that’s been so unsettling and challenging for everyone, it’s been inspiring to see our young co-designers step up to produce such a powerful campaign. And it’s really easy to get involved and show your support.

“That’s why we want everyone to wear their yellow socks, post their selfies online and show they care about youth loneliness. Let's make sure young people know that even though they might be lonely, they’re not alone.”

Read about Lonely Not Alone at lonelynotalone.org.

For more information on Fordhall Organic Farm, visit fordhallfarm.com.

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