Slough Youth Parliament (SYP) is throwing its support behind #ReachOut, the council and Slough Wellbeing Board’s campaign to tackle loneliness and social isolation in the borough.
The aim of the initiative is to improve the health and wellbeing of Slough residents by encouraging people to ‘reach out’ and seek help and support if they are feeling lonely or socially isolated; as well as offer advice to people wanting to help those who are lonely or isolated.
SYP, which is made up of 11-19 year olds from across Slough, and includes members from underrepresented groups; decided to get involved with #ReachOut as they felt it tied in with one of their five manifesto pledges for the year.
Along with wanting to make Slough a more environmentally friendly town and safer for young people, they also hope to reduce the stigma around young people’s emotional and mental health needs and improve local support services.
As part of their involvement with #ReachOut, they have made specific campaign pledges to catch up with family members more often, check in on friends they have lost touch with and also talk to and make friends with those they wouldn’t normally speak to or who might seem stressed or lonely at school.
In addition, the group plans to promote and publicise the various groups young people in Slough can get involved in and make friends, receive counselling and gain new skills, via their social media platforms.
Being alone is not always the same as being lonely. Loneliness can affect those feeling sad about being by themselves, or those feeling a disconnection from the world around them. You can even feel lonely, when surrounded by others.
Social isolation is being separated from other people and/or your environment. Sometimes this can happen through your own decisions, or through your situation - ranging from moving areas, jobs or school, to having a child, working unsociable hours, ill health, anxiety and more.
Actor Alex James Phelps, who played Travis Law-Hughes in Eastenders, is another supporter of the #ReachOut campaign and is urging young people to come forward if they know someone who might be lonely or if they themselves are feeling lonely and isolated.
With his busy acting schedule, he explained how he had had lost touch with a few friends, so is also pledging to get back in touch with them as part of the campaign.
He added: “One of the big storylines I was involved in during my time in Eastenders was around school bullies, cyber bullying and trolling. While the characters in the show felt they couldn’t speak out and thought they were alone and isolated in their situation, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
“If you’re going through anything similar, remember you are not alone, as there are so many people out there who can help. Why not talk to a friend, teacher or family member you trust? Or if you don’t feel comfortable, maybe speak with your doctor or school counsellor?
“There are also many groups in Slough to help you make new friends and do something you’re interested in. If you love music, there’s Swipe, if you’re interested in sports check out the Active Slough programme; and if you’re like me and a fan of acting and film making, there’s also Resource Productions.”
Cabinet member for health and social care, councillor Natasa Pantelic, said: “I’m so pleased to have the Youth Parliament’s support and involvement with this campaign, as they can offer a different perspective on issues affecting young people today, and may know how best to reach out to their peers who may be feeling lonely.
“It’s also great to have the support of Alex, as storylines about bullying and loneliness on TV show how common it is, and could help young people identify the need to help themselves too.”
If you’re a young person feeling lonely or socially isolated or you know someone who you think could be, there are many local organisations worth contacting or you can get involved with.
To find out more about the campaign, visit the official #ReachOut page and follow @SloughCouncil on Twitter.