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Breaking the taboo on loneliness

This semester, we had the unique opportunity to work on a project that would create value. We had many interesting topics to choose from. We had a long discussion on the issues facing our society today and where we might want to create an impact. Loneliness was topic that came up several times, so we decided to focus our project on reducing loneliness, which is a very real issue that is often overlooked.

At the start of the project, the team needed to gain a better understanding of the issue. We started with extensive desk research around the topic and found out that this topic is broad. We dove deeper into the topic, attended the Week of Loneliness, and reached out to potential stakeholders or partners who could help us in our mission. Through our research, we identified the gaps in loneliness that needed to be addressed. We found that young adults and youth were the most overlooked target group and that there is a lack of conversation and action surrounding the issue. We also identified that a taboo is present on this topic for youth and young adults.

During the engaging phase we networked and looked for partners who could give us information or support our mission. Faktor5 became one of our main stakeholders. They were really interested in our project and provided a lot of valuable information Een Tegen Eenzaamheid, which is an initiative from the Dutch government and the ministry of public health, wellbeing and sports became a close partner in the project. The network showed a lot of enthusiasm and is very willing to support our project. We met with Guido a few times and had quite some contact via email. Both of our main stakeholders were positive on the project but also very positive in interaction, both when we met as through messages. Both stakeholders also confirmand the value of our product.

The product of our Value Creators was created by collaborating with these networks and key stakeholders. To break the taboo on loneliness it was decided to host workshops at Windesheim and work towards the integration of loneliness within the curriculum. We created a playbook outlining the workshop’s content for our final product and provided a template for continued use, which could be incorporated into Windesheim's curriculum. Our workshop will be hosted in the upcoming weeks. We utilized the Theory of Change to clearly outline the inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact goals. Additionally, we established indicators to measure the value created by each of these components. For the continuation of the project, the team hopes Windesheim will want to take over the responsibility of providing the class on loneliness as a mandatory part of the curriculum. Een Tegen Eenzaamheid confirmed to be interested in collaborating, and willing to help. Moreover, one of our members followed training outside of school. She is starting a social enterprise where she and her team are developing a game on the newly gained information and the topic of loneliness. Furthermore, a curriculum template was created to integrate loneliness into the curriculum and is shared with teachers in Windesheim.

Overall, this project has been an interesting and great learning experience. While learning a lot, networking, failing, and rising, there was time for fun and conversations during our work hours. We worked on a meaningful and impactful project, allowing us to contribute to creating value in our local community. By addressing the issue of loneliness among youth and young adults in Windesheim through interactive workshops and dialogues, we hope to create a more open and supportive environment within the school where individuals can share their experiences and provide resources that can help alleviate feelings of loneliness.

It has been a great journey for us all, and we are proud of our work this semester. We hope that the work we have done will have a meaningful impact on a least some people.

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Ann-Cathrin Jöst
Ann-Cathrin Jöst
Sep 26, 2023

Hi, there I am an almuni of the WHC, form 2016 and the topic of loneliness has come back to me. I am now a teacher for Business English. Previously I taught from the lesson plan and realized the distance it created between me and the student, because the student wasn't graded for private conversation, so we often felt kinda bad having them as learning environment. Over the years I changed it to free conversation and my students learn fast and we feel much more connected to each other. There are so many things we can do in service industries. Beautiful to read, keep at it!

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