Shaun Friel, Director of Childline, explains how their Building Connections online service works to address loneliness for young people up to the age of 19.

About the service

Building Connections is a new NSPCC online service available to young people up to the age of 19, empowering them to find a way through loneliness.

Young people work with a trained befriender, who validates their experiences, guides them and champions them each step of the way. Building Connections gives young people tools that can help them build their confidence and better equip them to manage loneliness.

“Young people can use this online service to reflect on what is and isn’t working for them in terms of finding a way through loneliness. Working with a befriender means we’re their champions for the duration of the programme. Empowering them to find the tools they need to tackle loneliness.”

A seven-stage process

Young people will be referred into the service by a professional within an organisation or agency that works with children and young people experiencing loneliness such as: schools, children’s services, voluntary organisations, charitable organisations, and youth organisations.

The young person will work with one befriender (a trained volunteer), building their relationship over 11 sessions to help the young person develop skills to manage their emotions around loneliness, build their confidence, self-esteem and supporting them to find new ways to cope.

To do this, they’ll work through a seven-stage process:

  • Introductions: The Young person and the befriender get to know each other and talk through expectations and boundaries.
  • I am: Exploration of the young person’s world, their personal feelings, their vulnerabilities, and strengths.
  • I have: Identifying suitable support and resources available to the young person to manage loneliness and improve their situation.
  • I want/ I deserve: Exploration of what the young person feels is missing and what they imagine a more positive outlook to be.
  • I can/ I will: Befriender will support the young person to take concrete steps to manage and overcome feelings of loneliness.
  • I have learnt/ I pledge to: Reflecting on learnings and what they can take away. Young person is supported to develop a plan for the next six to nine months.
  • Endings: Celebrating the work they have done so far and the progress made.

Next steps

The service is now available and accepting referrals. Information sessions about the new service have been delivered to several schools and agencies throughout the summer.

Visiting the Building Connections page if you’re interested in learning more about the service, or in making a referral for a young person please.