What is the nature of loneliness and how does it affect individuals and communities? What is the difference between solitude, and loneliness? Why is solitude sought after, and loneliness feared? The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged communities globally, people have been forced to re-examine what it means to be lonely and to live with loneliness in a way they had not before.
Article and news archive
After more than 20 months and countless online meetings, the Fit2Belong Project Team was happy to finally meet again on 14 and 15 October 2021 in the beautiful city of Vilnius for the second face to face project meeting. The meeting was hosted by the Lithuanian partner TAVO Europe, who facilitated the two-day long meeting where the status of the project was discussed and the way forward for the last year of project work was mapped out.
This first publication of Fit 2 Belong is the culmination of work conducted in the first phase of the Fit2Belong project. Based on extensive desk research and interviews across Europe with young people aged 14-16 years, the researchers have developed a framework that provides guidance for the development of teaching and learning materials for youth who report loneliness. These materials will be created during the Phases 2 and 3 of the Fit2Belong project.
In this article that was published on Psyche.co Lily Verity and Pamela Qualter from the University of Manchester describe how they found in their research that those who report experiencing loneliness the most are young people, and the common images of solitude people tend to have do not match the experience of loneliness during adolescence and young adulthood. In the article they describe the common experiences that young people mention as reasons for feeling lonely, such as the desire for friends, identity changes, transitions, difficulties at home, etc.
The website Loneliness Across Cultures is an online exhibition about loneliness across cultures.
Fit to Belong team members from Manisa Social Sciences High School (MSBL) were received by the head doctor of the Manisa Mental Hospital. After reading the newspaper article about the loneliness movie "It will not stay dark" that was produced by MSBL, the head doctor of the Manisa Mental Hospital, Dr Cengiz Cengisiz, invited the F2B team members to discuss the possibilities of collaboration. They decided to form a discussion club in MSBL where students will share their opinions about existential problems.
On 21 June 2021 Manisahaberleri, the online newspaper of Manisa, reported on about the "Loneliness" film. Manisa Social Sciences High School students prepared a short film with the theme of "loneliness" during the time they were separated from each other due to the pandemic. The film evokes poetically the idea that loneliness will end with a friend reaching out with love and care. It was created by editing together scenes shot by the students under pandemic conditions.
During lockdown, the students of Manisa Social Sciences High School have created a short film about loneliness. The film shows students reciting poems about loneliness from Turkish Literature. They also act out the speaker of the poems in a relevant environment. As students could not come together during lockdown, each student filmed their own scene separately and these were later combined by the editors of the team.
The App team of the Fit to Belong Project has submitted their app introduction video to a competition of innovative technologies, called TeknoFest. In this 2-minute-long video, the team explains that they are developing an app exclusively for the use of a school community. The app is supposed to strengthen the relationships and communication within the school community by making it easier for students to find new friends in a safe environment and to organise activities together.
A recent review of research suggests that the Covid-19 isolation measures such as school closures, social distancing, and quarantine at home could have a much longer impact on mental health in general and on the wellbeing of young people in particular.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on how young people can interact with each other. Many schools, sports clubs and youth centres are closed as well as exhibitions, cultural centres, theatres, cinemas, cafes, or other places where adolescents like to meet. It will not come as a surprise that young people tell us that their feelings of loneliness have increased compared to before the pandemic. Because loneliness reflects what we think is the quantity and/or the quality of our social relationships. It is normal to feel lonely at times.
This Loneliness and Reconnection guide is a brief, practical guide for parents, teachers and practitioners about what loneliness is and what help can be found.
On 15th of January 2021 Ilknur Aktas, coordinator of the Fit 2 Belong project and teacher at Manisa Social Sciences High School, was invited by the district governor of Manisa to share information about the project and to bring the governor up to date on its progress. At this occasion the governor awarded Ilknur with a certificate of appreciation and he thanked all partners for their diligent contributions.
Loneliness is a health issue and at this moment even more by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research also in our own Fit2Belong Project has shown consistently that some of the highest levels of loneliness exist among young people, and often during periods of transition like during changes in school levels. In this Culture and Health webinar organised by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, three prominent researchers discuss the cultural context of loneliness in young people.
From 23rd till 26th of November 2020 the Fit2Belong gathered virtually to present and discuss first of all the results of the research carried out by the University of Manchester and the University of Exeter with the help of all other partners. The preliminary research results can be viewed in this Spark Page. This presentation and discussion took the largest part of day 1 of the workshop.
In the days before the Fit2Belong Workshop on 23 to 26 November 2020, Professor Pamela Qualter and her colleagues of the University of Manchester prepared a digital background document for all workshop participants, in order to bring them up to date on the progress in the project and more specifically about the outcomes of the research that took place within te project so far. Watch this Spark page to get a comprehensive view on the status of Fit2Belong research at present.
In this blog post on Psychology Today Manuela Barreto, Ph.D., Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Exeter and partner in the Fit2Belong Project tries to bust Seven Myths About Loneliness. Read the full blog post here. In this article worth reading Manuela Barreto describes what people in general are saying about loneliness and what we should say instead.
The Erasmus Days are three dedicated days to learn about the Erasmus+ Programme and talk with the programme’s alumni who will be happy to share their experiences! 15, 16 and 17 October are filled with exhibitions, concerts, contests, seminars, partner networking, open days, distribution of Europass Mobility documents, digital events,… Local events are organized by and for all citizens.Fit to Belong will present the project virtually in a webinar on Friday, 16 October.
Loneliness can have a number of negative effects in the short and long term (poor physical or mental health, poor sleep) and there has been increased demand to introduce interventions that mitigate loneliness, or increase successful management of transitory loneliness, so that individuals are not propelled into chronic, prolonged loneliness.
Based on the large scale research from Professor Qualter of the University of Manchester and her colleagues, the BBC has broadcast a series of podcasts on loneliness and more specifically on ways to feel less lonely. You can find these podcasts called “7 ways to feel less lonely” here.
The results of the Personality and Individual Differences (PAID) study based on the BBC Loneliness Experiment launched on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service are published on 26 April 2020. This online survey collected data from almost 55.000 individuals living across 237 countries, islands, and territories.
An article about Loneliness was published in the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on 28 July 2020. In the article, the psychiatrist Dr. Agah Aydin discusses modern attitudes towards relationships and the loneliness problem in relation with the pandemic. Despite the general perception that the people got lonelier during the pandemic, Dr. Aydin claims that many people in fact noticed how lonely they were before the pandemic.
Welcome to the website of Fit to Belong, an Erasmus+ funded project where common solutions are identified to help young people manage their loneliness experiences to feel more connected in their communities and schools.
Researchers Manuela Barreto (University of Exeter) and Pamela Qualter (University of Manchester) were interviewed recently on the effect of the lockdown during the Covid-19 Crisis and similar related issues, listen to their expert contributions on BBC and on Facebook:
To find out what the adolescents in partner institutions think about loneliness, we started to do online interviews with them. In each partner country, the interviews are being carried out with 3 boys and 3 girls who volunteered to take part in the research. In the interviews, adolescents are consulted upon their observations of loneliness among their peer groups, 14-15-year-olds.
On 26 April 2020 Manuela Barreto from University of Exeter, Pamela Qualter from University of Manchester (the research partners in our project) and their colleagues published the article “Loneliness around the world: Age, gender, and cultural differences in loneliness” in Personality and Individual Differences. In this article they describe a number of issues that are at the heart of our project namely that younger people reported more loneliness than the middle-aged, men reported more loneliness than women and that age, gender, and culture interacted to predict loneliness.
Our project kick-off meeting was held in Manchester on 16-17 January 2020. The meeting was hosted by Prof. Pamela Qualter from Manchester University. The intense day-long meetings involved partner presentations, overall project study, re-planning of the project timeline and discussions on project activities. Future transnational meeting dates were appointed; the tasks to be completed until the next meeting were defined and discussed in detail.