About this project
Based on analyses of a research and evaluation conducted during a KA1 Erasmus project, we came to the conclusion that within all the countries that were involved LONELINESS is a shared common issue, which we all think is difficult to deal with due to various objective reasons. Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health.
To improve our work and methodology connected to this topic, we decided to develop a KA2 Strategic partnership, which would give us the opportunity to work together on innovative methods and tools to educate our adult learners (social workers) with competences on how to overcome loneliness on the emotional and social level. Together we would like to develop new training modules and tools to tackle the issue of loneliness together with our European partners (Macedonia, Czech Republic, Spain, Hungary, France, The Netherlands and Belgium).
Within this newsletter we hope to inform you about the developments during our two year project. Every partner organisation gives information about the developements in their country.
Last year in August the interesting article on the loneliness issue has appeared on the public radio web (you can find it here).
There is a couple of maps based on census in 2011 in the article, so no new data, but there are some interesting perceptions on the situation of health and social services in CR.
Short summary of the article
The story is based on results of several (today we would say) classic studies, where a direct link between health and loneliness is shown regardless of the age of the persons surveyed. There is no data how loneliness affects the health of the population in the Czech Republic as loneliness is not a diagnosis so it is not monitored in the health sector and according the Ministry of Health this issue should be covered by the social issues sector. But there is no cooperation and information exchange between named sectors. Though there is no data, the director of Institute of Health Information and Statistics does not hesitate to question the results of foreign studies and declare that the link between loneliness and heath might be found in the UK or Switzerland but not in the Czech Republic.
The second part of the article describes that nor for the social sector loneliness is an issue and the majority of social services are not flexible enough to work with people outside established templates, who are above all represented by people with mental illnesses. And this is where the lack of cooperation between health and social services is most visible and limits efficient supportive activities.
How is everything going
In Hungary things are going well. We are getting prepared for the next meeting – looking forward to seeing the project group again. Social workers are “warmed up” for the research. The fluctuation among our clients is so high that we plan to involve them only when the questionnaire is ready. But regarding that we have about 3000 clients in our institutions it can not be a problem to find the required quantity. Good news: our Housing First program is launched so we can soon start cooperate with them.
3000 people are using our homeless services permanently so it can not be a problem to find 40 for the project.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/196239340456903/ - this is the link to our facebook post – we posted it in “BMSZKI ügyes-bajos”, a group for our social workers.
How is everything going
During May and June last year we continued with the implementation of the project on a national level according to the plan and without any major setbacks. Before the end of June we obtained the necessary quota of 20 workers from the members and volunteers of our organization, our friends and our partner organizations. As for the clients, we previously managed to provide the required number of 40 people. If some of them fail to pass the test with the loneliness scale and therefore do not qualify as clients, our association can at any time acquire additional clients as a replacement from the people in our user database who we constantly visit and help. We continue with the practice of having regular meetings of our team members to coordinate our current activities and to discuss other issues arising from our participation in the project.
Regarding dissemination, the primary channel of communication of information is the facebook page “Osamenost / Loneliness”, while direct contacts with third parties and “word of mouth” communication come as secondary. In the meantime, the workers and clients who are expected to be included in the research have also been informed about the project for tackling loneliness and its main features.
The Osamenost / Loneliness Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SpravuvanjeSoOsamenost/ has 599 likes at the moment, and its posts have a maximum reach of approximately 30,000 people. Every post and picture on the page is with a topic related to loneliness or to our project. A link to the facebook page of the project "Restoring dreams to tackle loneliness" has been posted on our page. After the end of summer and summer holidays our team will make effort to make the page Osamenost / Loneliness be more active, with more frequent posts and comments, to have more likes and to enrich it with new and interesting content.
According to the preliminary online research that we made and our own experience we came to a conclusion that in our country there is no existing legislative or public policy related to loneliness. Furthermore, there aren’t any public institutions or non-governmental organizations working with loneliness. We are the first one.
Training Modules on social skills
One of the main reasons of loneliness and the appearance of a certain symptom is a low level of social skills, i.e. inadequate socialization, as well as the use and interpretation of their own social skills and constructions. Loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as the physical pain; therefore it presents a part of the basic existential human fears. Therefore, there is an urgent need for prevention, socialization and intervention in the reframing of social contacts and relationships. From here, there is a need to build healthy and stable relations with family, friends, good and healthy contact with oneself, with the partner, as well as with the social environment. Social life is an important factor in maintaining mental health. Therefore, we can conclude that people who are experiencing loneliness are subject to more risks, as well as manifesting and nurturing negative feelings:
- The feeling of loneliness is a feeling when the person feels unaccepted, unloved and ununderstood
- Loneliness is usually the cause for depressive disorders
- When in the company of the closest ones and friends, the person feels loneliness
- Loneliness is when one finds comfort and positive feelings in an imaginary world
- Loneliness is a condition of involuntary psychic and physical isolation
- When the frustrations of others direct you to feeling of loneliness
- The feeling of loneliness has negative impact on the quality of life and psycho-physical health
- Loneliness is when a person does nоt feel worry, responsibility, respect and understanding.
According to all of the above, we believe that in this module the most adequate tools for intervening loneliness and preventing the emergence of a certain psychosomatic symptom is the use of the following tools that can be used in three stages of intervening when working with clients who are experiencing this problem:
- Individual psychosocial work – intervention “Here and now”
- Group psychosocial work – intervention “Transgeneration approach”
- Tool “Ecosystem access”.
How is everything going
In The Netherlands things are going good! In july many people came together at our first kickoff event. Both clients and social workers were invited and a lot of people attended the meeting. In total we had around 15 clients and 20 social workers who visited the meeting. We chose to mix social workers and clients together, because everyone is sometimes lonely, and everyone is equal to each other. The meeting was a big success and all the clients want to be part of the project. They came up with a lot of ideas and inspired us with their stories.
During the duration of the project, several meetings will be organized where different aspects of loneliness are discussed. The clients who came to the meeting want to be involved during the whole year and help us find good tools and best practises from their own experiences.
In October we've had the "week of loneliness", everywhere in the country were events and activties organised to help people in need. Together with our clients we have organised a meeting as well, to see what we can do within HVO Querido. To be continued!
Last summer we conducted 20 interviews with all the social workers who will participate in the project. It was easy to find 20 social workers, a lot of people are concerned about this topic and really want to make a difference, to find solutions and tools to discuss this topic with people, to change their way of thinking and to change the taboo on this topic. The interviews went really well and gave us a lot of insights All of them will be involved in different kind of levels. In september we will start with the interviews of 40 clients. In the last month we gave the finishing touch on the interview questions and were sent out to everyone.
In the meantime we are working hard on the trainingmodules. Two of them are finished (Positive health & It can also be different – relations with the neighbors)
"It can also be different" is an approach created by HVO Querido where there is a willingness to look for alternative solutions for difficult situations. Important pillars are:
- Has an analysis been made (Was there a difficult situation)
- Is there a goal?
- Is there attention towards it / is it special / with a ribbon around?
- Is this tool tangible and usable in other comparable situations?
- Are the costs acceptable (preferable as little as possible)?
- Is it strength oriented?
- Is it festive / challenging / pure / sensible / Yes?
We looked for the best tools and best practices connected to this approach, to build up relationships with the neighbors.
In the last month before our meeting we will mainly focus on the last training module "Coping with reality". Next to this they started to build the website! We are hoping the website will be online in autumn, we will keep you posted!
Training module: Me and myself
Who am I? What makes me proud of myself?
Sometimes you doubt yourself. You think that you can do nothing. That nobody needs you. At such moments it is important that you lool to the good sides of yourself. Positive thinking about yourself can help you! In addition, positive thinking about yourself gives you more confidence. Self confidence gives you
Try this exercise every day. Make it a habit to write down every evening, for example, ' successes of the day '. So you go to bed with a satisfied feeling and get back your confidence.
After a while you’ll find more and more positive things about yourself. That may be very small things, that does not matter, as long as it is positive!
You can always read back your writings. In a moment of loneliness or distress they can help you rediscover your good feeling.
What makes you proud today? List at least 3 things.
You may not immediately think of something? Watch the list for inspiration…
I have ... made time for relaxation. - comforted my sister (or girlfriend/mother/…) when she was sad. - helped my mother when she was in need. - read a book - mowed the grass. – played some music. – made a painting on the back of a coaster - mastered those difficult skateboard trick. - tried something new today. - asked for assistance with my bills/paperwork. - had a nice chat with some from my street. cleaned up my room. – talked to my friend when his parents broke up. - made a new friend. – went to a new place – took the train to visit someone -
How is eveything going
We published a link towards the facebook publication of the second newsletter ! Our next mission will be to send it to all our professional network and to send the link for the Facebook Page Restoring dreams to tacle loneliness/ Lutter contre la solitude.
We contacted a research center, but they will need a research protocole to work with us. They agreed on a new meeting if needed it to possibly support us with the questionnaire or the analysis.
We took part in a national housing first call phone meeting in last August, to increase the number of profesionals involved, and we made a final list afterwards.
We had a national meeting with all the participants in the city of Lyon last November. The point of this meeting was to have the training about loneliness and to discuss about french tools to tackle loneliness.
New Training module: Restoring dreams // improve network
Information and communication technologies (ICT), particularly Internet-based social media, facilitate social inclusion and help to maintain family relations and friendships.
In France, 26% of people meet with numerical difficulties ( * from Emmaus connect website) while a lot of services are now developping on a numerical way : gouvernment taxes, social allowances, social security… You can also apply to a job offer by e-mail.
A lot of people use social network to meet new friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, and also find back family or stay in contact with close friends.
But social netwoking sites can be questionned : Are they favorising social inclusion or either exclusion? Indeed, according to a research (*French and loneliness - BVA survey for ASTRÉE association.2018), social networking sites are in double edge. If 76% of french people think that social networking sites allow them to keep in touch with frends and family, and 50% say they can create new rmeetings, almost 70% of them say that social networking sites reduces real life communication.
Still, numerical access stay a big challenge in our society because facilitate numerical access can give easier access to a job or a house. It's also a help in the fields of health and education services. To be connected has a real impact on the discriminations we haveto face.
Unfortunately a lot of people is excluded from digital tools : 61% of old people, 32% of people with disabilities and 48 % of non-graduated people. People with low income also face a challenge: 41 % haven't internet connexion and feel deconnected, 26% have no phone and 37% have no computer. A lot of people also don't know how to use digital tools.
The housing french teams can direct clients towards Emmaus connect. Emmaus connect is an association who try to slow down the digital exclusion. They give access to a solidarity offer to buy equipment ( phone, computer…). They give trainings and educational tools to the clients who can learn how to use digital tools and how to stay connected.
They also give trainings to professionals in order to help them to support clients towards the digital transition.
Do you want to read Issue 1: here
Do you want to read Issue 2: here