International Projects on Loneliness

Extracts from projects around the world speaking of and tackling loneliness in unique and innovative ways:

1. The loneliness project (Canada): Loneliness is human and that’s okay. At The Loneliness Project, we believe that stories have power—the power to heal both listener and teller, and to show us that we aren’t ever truly alone. Stories are powerful tools for building empathy and growing kindness. Those shared here are deeply personal yet profoundly universal. They reveal something about being human. The Loneliness Project is the first chapter of An Imperfect Archive of Us, a digital space to cultivate compassion—for others, but especially for ourselves.

2. The Eden Project communities (UK): The Eden Project is an educational charity and social enterprise that creates gardens, exhibitions, art, events, experiences and projects that explore how people can work together and with nature towards a better future. Our aim is to improve the happiness and wellbeing of people across the UK by helping to build more resilient and better connected communities. Eden supports and encourages people all over the UK to take positive actions that strengthen local connections and build stronger communities.

3.The loneliness lab (UK): The Loneliness Lab is an 18-month project to accelerate action towards making London a less lonely city to live in for many people. We want to know what it takes to create places and spaces that give the people who live, work and play in our cities the connection they need to lead a happy and healthy life. Over 100 people from 40 organisations have been part of the Loneliness Lab so far, including community groups, NGOs, Local Authorities, businesses, designers, artists, and importantly people experiencing loneliness. 

4. Hoffice (Sweden): “The problem with working at home for most of us, is to be so lonely in the complex soup we call life. All our addictions of distracting ourselves, all escape mechanisms here and there – they’re difficult to handle when you’re on your own.” Christofer Gradin Franzen, the founder of Hoffice, was facing one such moment when the idea of hoffice – a concept of working for free at the homes of others, with others – came to him. It is inspired by the concept of gift economy that the founder experienced through the Sarvodaya movement and Shramadana concept in Sri Lanka. 

5. The campaign to end loneliness (UK): The Campaign to End Loneliness believe that people of all ages need connections that matter. There are nine million lonely people in the UK and four million of them are older people. Many older people find constant loneliness hardest to overcome. They lack the friendship and support we all need. We’ve been experts in the field of loneliness and connection since 2011. We share research, evidence and knowledge with thousands of other organisations and the public to make a difference to older people’s lives. We inspire everyone to connect and bring communities together across the UK.

6. Intergenerational homestays: (a) Residential and Care Center Humanitas is a long-term care facility for elders in Netherlands. In exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month, students are able to stay in vacant rooms at the home for the aged, free of charge. The intergenerational living model is beginning to gain in popularity. Since Humanitas opened its doors to students in 2012, two more nursing homes in the Netherlands have followed suit. And a similar program was recently introduced in Lyon, France. (b) The “Take Home a Student” project was conceived by MeglioMilano, or “Better Milan”, a non-profit organization, and has created more than 600 pairs since it began in 2004. The students pay some expenses, carry out household tasks and spend time with their hosts, creating what the organizers call a “virtuous circle” which brings companionship to pensioners while offering a peaceful study environment (source).

7. Daytime discos (South Korea): A daytime disco for over-65s in the Korean capital Seoul is giving seniors a new lease of life. The event is the first of its kind organised by the local government and aims to tackle loneliness and dementia in the rapidly ageing country.

8. The Exeter Care Homes Reading Project (UK): This project is about strengthening the connections between young and old in the local community, and making a difference in the daily lives of those living in residential care, and especially residents with dementia. Our Reading Project student volunteers are trained and sent out to a large number of care homes across Exeter. They visit residents regularly, reading poetry, plays, and short stories, and simply spend time chatting. We believe that something as simple as giving time to others can have a profound effect on their quality of life, dignity, and happiness, and we aim to do this through sharing literature and talking with them.