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Combating Loneliness - We can all do something.

How can loneliness and isolation be reduced within migrant and refugee communities in the UK and Europe? The Wonder Foundation believes that through reducing language and cultural barriers, providing safe, congregational spaces, and encouraging personal developed through mentoring can provide some answers.

Wonder Foundation’s research highlighted several root causes of loneliness of migrant women. Research found that migrant women have a desire to meet people outside of their own communities, however, cultural and language barriers that hinder this. The research identified the cycle of poor mental health caused by trauma experienced before, during and following their migration, reinforces loneliness and isolation and prevents strong new relationships from forming.

Loneliness and isolation has a number of detrimental and wide-reaching consequences for migrant girls and women and wider society. Women who face isolation and exclusion from the workforce, have a heightened vulnerability to gang involvement, prostitution, teenage pregnancy and single motherhood. In addition, loneliness has a significant impact on an individual’s mental and physical health, further burdening health systems.

The Wonder Foundation has provided a written response to a Call for Evidence from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport who are developing a strategy to combat loneliness in the UK.

Three of the Wonder Foundation’s initiatives provide evidence of programmes that are successful in reducing risk of loneliness. These successful initiatives are the FATIMA Project, the Into School Programme at the Baytree Centre and Easier Transitions. Additionally, the national level policy initiative developed through Knowing Me, Knowing You could, if implemented further reduce loneliness of migrant and ethnic minority communities.

Below is a discussion of how these initiatives reduce the risk of loneliness in these communities:

  • FATIMA Project has reduced the risk of loneliness of these migrant women through providing a holistic programme to assist their integration into their host community. The classes provide a safe, congregational space where the women can meet and form friendships. A key indicator of success for FATIMA will be the reduction in the number of women who report that they feel isolated. 

  • The Into School programme at the Baytree Centre assists newly-arrived girls by providing a structured programme while they assist them to find a place in a secondary school, deliberately reducing the potential isolation of these girls. The major successful outcome of this programme is the reduction of reported isolation and poor mental health, and improved integration of the girls into UK school life and society.
  • Easier Transitions aims to assist young people in a smooth transition from education into the job market. Through doing this the risk of loneliness caused by unemployment is reduced. Mentoring assists the youth to find employment by building their self-belief and encouraging personal reflection, developing networks and teaching them skills such as resilience.
  • The national level policy recommendation of the Knowing Me, Knowing You youth programme suggested the expansion of the age range of the National Citizen Service (NCS) to 16-29 years old. The NCS programme is designed to build understanding and friendships between young people of all backgrounds. Our proposal to build upon this already successful programme would allow additional diverse, young people to meet and engage with one another, thus reducing the risk of loneliness and isolation of migrant and ethnic minority youth.  

Wonder Foundation has made a submission to the call for evidence. You can find it here.